By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
Moapa Valley residents are blessed to live in a beautiful area surrounded by plenty of room and lands for public use. Most residents are vigilant in keeping the area clean and beautiful for all to enjoy. However, occasionally some citizens still use the open lands as a garbage dump rather than disposing of unwanted materials in appropriate ways.
But technological advances have made it possible to track down residents who choose to dump their junk in the desert. And the community’s OHV-friendly status means that there are more riders out and about to find the unsightly remains.
Recently, members of the Moapa Valley community were riding OHV’s in the desert when they came upon a pile of recently deposited junk. They were able to gather the UPC numbers from some of the boxes that had been left. When they got home, they called the manufacturer of one of the items who was able to tell them that the item was a new TV and had been sold through Walmart. The residents then turned this information, along with the UPC symbols and the GPS coordinates of the dumped items, over to BLM officials.
Local BLM ranger, Stephen Neel, took the investigation from there. Neel contacted Walmart. The company was able to tell him which of their stores sold the TV. Managers at that store then pulled up video surveillance of the customer actually purchasing that particular TV set.
In a community as small as Moapa Valley, it didn’t take long before the perpetrator was identified and contacted by Neel. The suspects were required to clean up the mess in addition to being fined for the infraction.
Neel pointed out that dumping items in the desert is a class A misdemeanor at the very least. This includes all yard waste such as grass clippings, palm fronds, and tree trunks; all household items; all construction materials such as cement, wood, etc., and any hazardous materials.
Fines for illegal dumping usually range between $150 and $1,000. But depending on what is dumped, fines can be more and also can include clean-up fees and even court appearances. The smallest fines are for less than 2 cubic yards of non-flammable waste, but household waste fines begin at $500.
Neel stresses that dumping in the desert is entirely unnecessary. All residents are required to have trash disposal service through Republic Services. Any items that cannot be collected in the weekly service will be collected on the first Saturday of every month by Republic Services.
The only thing the monthly dump can’t take is hazardous materials, which must be taken directly to the disposal site at Apex. Neel points out that it is a service everyone has already paid for so they may as well use it while obeying the law at the same time and keeping the desert clean.
Neel just wants to remind everyone that it is everyone’s job to keep our public lands clean and we need to all work together to preserve the beauty around us.
“This is our backyard and we need to work together to keep our backyard clean and beautiful so we all can enjoy it,” Neel said.