BLM, Volunteers Clean Up Illegal Dumping - 8 News NOW

Edward Lawrence, Reporter

BLM, Volunteers Clean Up Illegal Dumping

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When you hear the word desert, you think of an open barren range with no one around. But some people think that makes it okay to dump waste wherever they want.

In some places, federal land around Las Vegas is so cluttered with debris; the areas look more like a landfill. And Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officers want people to know that dumping on federal land will land you in the federal big house.

One of those places is on East Lake Mead Boulevard where almost anything can be found dumped in the desert on Sunrise Mountain.

That is why the BLM, along with volunteers from Americorps, started a new dedicated effort to clean up these lands and catch people responsible for the destruction of them.

The next Don't Trash Nevada clean up is set for Saturday, Feb. 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Click here to find out how to volunteer.

On Monday, a four-day clean up started on Sunrise Mountain to restore the natural beauty of the area and to clean up all the garbage near a wash that leads into Lake Mead, which is Southern Nevada's main source of water.

Chad Kooistra, a volunteer, said, "You can see contractors bring a lot of the concrete and stuff like that. We are actually going to use that to block off some of these roads that should not be here."

Right out of college, Kooistra says he joined Americorps to give back. As a nature lover, this isn't work to him. He looks at it as restoring the land.

BLM law enforcement rangers identify the worst spots. When Jerry Vanderpool arrived at the scene, he found two dumpers in the act.

"So these guys will be charged under the water pollution act and air quality control," Ranger Vanderpool said.

The two dumpers plaster for a living and Vanderpool says they most likely stole this wire from their construction site. He adds they were stripping off the rubber to get to the copper to sell for cash. Generally the rubber is discarded or burned releasing toxins into the air and onto the ground.

In addition to federal charges the two will eventually be deported because they did not have any work papers and their employer denied knowing them.

It happens everyday for Vanderpool. The volunteers see it too and do what they can help clean up the problem.

Ranger Jerry Vanderpool said, "It's an ongoing battle. We do catch some of them. Obviously not near enough by looking at the area."

The worst part is the area on Sunrise Mountain washes down to Lake Mead when it rains and all of the trash, chemical, rubber, and everything else washes straight to the valley's drinking water.

Email your comments to Reporter Edward Lawrence.

The BLM and its partners have received additional support in trying to stop the problem of dumping.

Senator Ensign visited Sunrise Mountain late last year to kick off a regional anti-litter campaign called "Don't Trash Nevada" sponsored by the Southern Nevada Agency Partnership (BLM, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Forest Service). 

This campaign is aimed at raising community awareness about Nevada's dumping problem. 

Sunrise Mountain Instant Study Area is located Lake Mead Blvd. just east of Hollywood Blvd.

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