Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dump Site in Wayne NF Removed

army assists cleanup
An Army reservist watches fellow soldiers remove trash from a large dump on the Forest.
excerpted from National Forest Success Stories "Military Assists the Wayne National Forest", by Pam Blackburn, used with permission

The Wayne National Forest found a new partner that brings a lot of muscle to the table - literally. The US Army Reserve 779th Engineering Company came on board as a new partner and took on two monumental tasks.

The Army Reserve had been looking for a real-world training area for their equipment operators. The Wayne National Forest, as with most forests, was looking for ways to accomplish more tasks with lower budgets each year. Although they were neighbors, neither had given much thought to what they could offer each other.

The first task was an illegal dump that, according to local accounts, had been on the Forest for 60 years or more. The dump also flowed over onto private land owned by an absentee owner. The Forest contacted the owner and obtained permission to access his land to remove the dump from his property also.

During that time, the Forest met with several local law enforcement agencies to target any new dumping at the site. From that effort, approximately 35 new cases were prosecuted. Days before the cleanup effort, the Forest spoke with local residents and landowners to inform them of the dump removal.

Several residents recalled the dump being burned over the years "when the trash would get too high." Other comments included thank you and promises to protect the work that the Forest had done.

The dump was adjacent to the North Country National Scenic Trail and an eyesore for the Marietta, Ohio, section. The runoff from the dump emptied into the Little Muskingum River. The Little Muskingum River is one of the five cleanest rivers in Ohio. In their Forest Plan, the Wayne said they would protect the Little Muskingum River.

As the cleanup effort began, the Forest had no idea what they were undertaking. By all estimates, the trash was 40-50 tons with many tires strewn throughout. When the excavator was removing the first layer, it was like a spring. All of the layers underneath expanded with the release of the weight of the top layer. Each time another layer was removed, more layers would appear.

By the end of the first day, it became apparent that this site had been severely underestimated. By the end of the first day, the Forest had filled all of the rolloff dumpsters that had been ordered. We had also removed 45 tires. By the end of the weekend, we had removed 75 tires and 60 tons of trash.

The second work weekend on this site occurred in October. The dump cleanup crew was in full swing. With six rolloff dumpsters on hand and a semi trailer provided by the Ohio EPA for tires, we were ready to make progress. At the close of the first day, it was apparent that we were going to be close to filling our rolloffs again.

Waste Management came through with a container switch-out on a Sunday morning. They had seen what we were doing and wanted to help however they could. By the end of the second work day, we had come close to accomplishing this huge task. Two small areas of trash remain and a few loose tires. After that, it's just stone placement and time for the land to heal itself. All but the last can be scheduled. Our part will occur in March.

All in all, we removed approximately 160 tons of trash and over 400 tires. (We lost count when we got the human chain working well.) We also were able to repair a trailhead access road, protect a watershed, work across boundaries with our neighbors, and find a new partner.

By the end of both of these projects, [the neighbors] shook each of our hands and thanked all of us for our work at the site. There were also many promises of protecting what we had done. The Army security detail that spent the night at the dump site said that a runner had come past them on the trail early in the morning and yelled out "thank you for cleaning up that mess" as she passed.

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