Counties find ways to help farmers tidy up illegal dumps
Although incidences of illegal dumping are more prevalent in all counties throughout the state and growers are forced to absorb the cost of cleanup, law enforcement and local governments have stepped up their response to fighting this dirty crime.
To curb illegal dumping in Kings County, the board of supervisors, Sheriff's Department and Kings County Farm Bureau formed a collaborative effort to assist farmers.
"The Kings County Board of Supervisors and Kings County Farm Bureau came together to start this program. A member of Farm Bureau has been putting heat on me for months about this, so we decided to do something about it," said Tony Oliveira, Kings County supervisor and local farmer.
The groups' illegal dumping prevention campaign began in late 2004 and involves signs at the county's major illegal dumping sites, including along the Kings River and local canals.
"Through this new program, we are targeting common areas for illegal dumping in the county. We found out where many common illegal dumping sites are and plotted them out on a map. Then we hung 2 'No Dumping' signs in these areas," said Detective Jeff Tyner, Kings County Sheriff's Department Rural Crime Unit investigator.
The signs warn trash stashers of the following: "Illegal dumping is a crime on public or private property. Illegal dumping is punishable up to a $1,000 fine. Violators will be reported and prosecuted."
Growers can acquire "No Illegal Dumping" signs by contacting either the county Farm Bureau or the Kings County Sheriff's Department.
"Growers in our county face challenges every day of illegal dumping on their ranches and farms," said Ryan Bertao, Kings County Farm Bureau executive director. "It is an added cost and burden to these growers to remove these items, so whenever an opportunity presents itself to ward off illegal dumping, it's easy for Farm Bureau to get involved and help stop these activities."
In Tulare County, rural property owners confronted with illegal dumping are given some relief because the county will generally collect dumped tires at no expense to the grower.
The Butte County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance early this year that enabled the county to fine suspects caught dumping illegally—$100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense within 12 months, and $500 for a third offense within the same year. The county may also seize the vehicle used by the suspect.
A new state law may reduce the dumping of old computers and other electronic equipment. The Electronic Waste Recycling Act allows people to take electronic items to landfills free of charge. People who purchase certain electronic products are assessed an electronic waste recycling fee that provides funding for safe recycling of the covered electronic waste.
(Christine Souza is a reporter for Ag Alert. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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