More than 60 volunteers gathered over the weekend to clean up nearly 4,000 pounds of illegally dumped trash along the banks of the Eel River and in Fortuna. The trash was taken to Eel River Disposal and the dump fees are being paid by Measure Z, the half-cent sales tax passed by voters last year.
Sean Swanson, founder of the River Life Foundation, organized the clean-up. He and a group of volunteers began met at the river bar off Palmer Blvd. in Fortuna at 10 am on Friday and Saturday and worked for several hours cleaning up illegally discarded waste. This is one of many clean-ups that take place each year.
Humboldt County Public Works currently takes on much of the burden of identifying, assessing, cleaning up and disposing of most illegal dumping and hazardous material spills occurring on many public lands. Common items cleaned up include old TV sets, computers, sofas, chairs, mattresses, paint cans, garbage bags containing unknown materials, and even cars.
Prior to Measure Z, there was no dedicated funding for this service. Costs incurred from cleaning up these sites is normally paid out of the general maintenance funds, which should instead be used to maintain our already underfunded County roads and parks. The Board of Supervisors in June allocated $25,000 of Measure Z funds to be used for clean-up of illegal dump sites.
Illegal dumping in public lands is not only a concern to the health and safety of the public, but it also adversely affects the environment, including our waterways. By having Measure Z as a dedicated funding source we can help address the growing problem of illegal dumping in our beautiful community.