Interactive map tracks junked cars, trash dumped on state forestland

April 5, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

State asks residents to help crack down on illegal dumping

The abandoned vehicle on state land near Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast and the dumped household garbage on eastern Tiger Mountain represent — as the Department of Natural Resource’s law enforcement chief describes the illegal dumping problem — “the tip of the iceberg.”

The agency has unveiled a Web-based map to show locations of more than 200 illegal dumping sites on state trust lands.

The state — through the departments of natural resources and ecology, plus other agencies — spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to clean up household trash, junked vehicles, and commercial and hazardous waste dumped on state trust lands.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” Larry Raedel, chief of law enforcement services for the Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. “For every one of the sites we investigated, mapped and cleaned up last year, there are two or three more out there that we haven’t found yet.”

Illegal dumping often occurs near forest roads on the 2.1 million acres of forestland managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Hazardous sites, such as discarded industrial solvents or meth labs, can cost thousands of dollars each to clean up. Sending trucks to remote locations to remove abandoned vehicles is also expensive.

The agency manages forestry on the lands to generate revenue for public schools and local services in counties.

Raedel said the online map is intended to show the extent of illegal dumping on state trust lands. Overall, the map shows locations of the 49 abandoned vehicles, 32 commercial and hazardous waste dumps, and 113 household dumping sites investigated by the agency last year. The list includes the sites near Issaquah.

“We’re putting hidden cameras and sensors at known trouble spots to try and catch more people,” Raedel said. “Unfortunately, the majority of offenders are never caught, which is why we need law-abiding citizens to help us out.”

Funds from the Department of Ecology and other sources help cover some clean-up costs and prevention steps, such as installing hidden cameras and paying overtime to officers to conduct emphasis patrols. Courts can also order people convicted of littering to pay clean-up costs.

The fines for illegal dumping of nonhazardous materials range from $90 to $500, depending on quantity and other circumstances.

In the past, agents arrested illegal dumpers after campers and hunters noted the license plate numbers of trucks hauling debris or garbage driving into forests — and then emerging empty.

“We are asking folks who use state lands to please report suspicious activities in the woods,” Raedel said. “Call 911 when suspicious activity is spotted.”

On the Web

Find illegal dumping sites near Issaquah and statewide on the state Department of Natural Resources’ interactive map.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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