Updated Fri, May 17, 2013 9:52 am
Some people apparently believe they can use the Wayne National Forest as their personal dumping grounds for tree stumps and brush, as well as other refuse and debris.
However, Wayne National Forest officials think differently and say this is a criminal act and punishable by fines and jail sentencing.
According to Gary Chancey, Wayne National Forest Public Affairs staff officer, the penalty for dumping any refuse, debris, trash or litter on national forestry property is a $325 fine for the first offense with maximum penalties of $5,000 fine and 180 days incarceration.
The fines and potential jail sentence doubles if a business is responsible for the illegal dumping.
These fines and penalties also include the dumping of tree stumps and brush.
“One of the biggest areas of concern is New Straitsville,” stated Chancey. “We have problems with Haydenville and Nelsonville as well, but I believe New Straitsville is the worst. We are now checking into two new illegal dumping sites — one in Haydenville and the other in New Straitsville.”
Within the past few days, someone has used River Road in Haydenville as a personal dumping grounds, leaving huge tree stumps and pine branches along the roadway on Wayne National Forest land.
While officials have an idea of who the alleged suspect is, they will not divulge any names at this time as it is under investigation.
Officials were at the dump site last week to assess the area and talk with town residents to gather more information.
In addition to the Haydenville dumping site, Chancey reported a recent dumping area in New Straitsville, just inside the Wayne on an access road on Monday Creek Township Road 247. This site is a short distance off of Dutch Ridge Road.
Someone has illegally dumped an old sofa and many other items at this site and Chancey is eager to find the culprit or culprits. Anyone with knowledge of those dumping at this site is asked to contact Chancey immediately.
“We don’t take this lightly,” stated Chancey. “No one wants this in their backyard and we don’t want it in the Wayne.”
Dumping sites pop up all over Hocking, as well as Perry and Athens counties, leaving officials in a quandary over cleaning up someone else’s mess.
“It’s not just our area,” stated Chancey. “We see and hear about this all the time.”
Litter remains a pervasive problem, and continues to have a significant impact on our communities and environment. There are over 51 billion pieces of litter on U.S. roadways each year.
According to statistics, the presence of litter in a community decreases property values by seven percent.
Litter clean up costs the U.S. more than $11.5 billion each year, with businesses paying $9.1 billion. Local and state governments, schools, and other organizations pay the remaining costs.
The environmental outcomes of litter can have economic impacts. This includes lost tourism revenues, expenses for repairing vehicles, boats and ships, restoration of ecosystems, wildlife injury, and eventually the cost to human health.
Debris may be carried by storm drains into local waterways with potential for serious environmental contamination.
The following actions are prohibited from dumping in the Wayne National Forest area:
• Depositing in any toilet, toilet vault, or plumbing fixture any substance which could damage or interfere with the operation or maintenance of the fixture.
• Possessing or leaving refuse, debris, or litter in an exposed or unsanitary condition.
• Placing in or near a stream, lake, or other water any substance, which does or may pollute a stream, lake, or other water.
• Failing to dispose of all garbage, including any paper, can, bottle, sewage, waste water or material, or rubbish either by removal from the site or area, or by depositing it into receptacles or at places provided for such purposes.
• Dumping of any refuse, debris, trash or litter brought from private property, including trees, stumps, branches and brush.
“People should remember illegal dumping is unlawful and a criminal act, punishable by a fine and jail time,” stated Chancey.
To report an illegal dumping site within the Wayne National Forest, or if anyone has knowledge of the person or persons responsible for the New Straitsville and Haydenville illegal dumping, contact Chancey at 740-753-0862.