By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com
(Lander, Wyo.) The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Board of Directors inched closer to helping municipalities with the cost of illegally dumped trash in their jurisdictions, but put off a decision until next month.
Board member Jeff Hermansky who offered the initial motion, decided to withdraw the motion after a report on illegal trash dumping on the reservation was discussed. “I’m afraid there are ramifications beyond what I envisioned here,” he said.
Mike Morgan, who was just reappointed to his second term on the board, said he endorsed the idea to help the communities, but agreed with Hermansky’s assessment. “This is premature until more data is in on exactly what we are dealing with,” he said.
Peters said he was worried that small towns such as his “would be stuck with the cost of illegal dumping.” He said his city budget would not be able to absorb an additional $1,000 – $2,000 in expense and he requested that fees for illegally dumped trash be waived. He said people had dumped a refrigerator and other refuse in the city park. He said the town has ordinances dealing with illegal trash dumping and litter, but he said they could only be enforced if they knew who dumped the refuge. He said he estimated that the town was sending a dump truck to the transfer station there a couple times a month with the illegal garbage.
After additional discussion, Hermansky offered his motion to help the municipalities, but then action was deferred until a report on the reservation situation was delivered.
Solid Waste District Superintendent Andy Frey said he and Ben Gonzales, the deputy supt., had traveled through the reservation after hearing of more illegal dumping there. He said the transfer station sites he visited “were clean inside the fences,” but he said the situation was reversed outside of the fences where waste was being left.
Wind River Environment Quality Control Director Ryan Ortiz acknowledged that there was a continuing problem with illegally dumped trash, but he said it was getting better. “Part of the problem was that we got into this really fast and didn’t get all the information out the way we would’ve liked.” The Tribes and the Solid Waste District entered into a “bridge” contract in mid-December that turned the management of the four reservation transfer sites over the Tribes for six months, so they could collect data on what long term costs would be. “We’re paying for the waste we collect,” he reported, “and we try to clean up the sites on a daily basis.”
Ortiz said illegal trash that can be traced results in a letter being sent informing them that their name was found in illegally dumped trash, that the reservation has anti littering resolutions with fines attached, and including the times and dates that each of the stations are now staffed. Previously, they were open around the clock, but now they are only staffed and fees collected five days a week. Ortiz said the hours of operation are being adjusted to help make the times more convenient.
“There are a small percentage of people who will dump illegally anyway. “We’re doing our best to keep up with that.”
Ortiz did mention that the amount of “non tribal” trash being delivered to the reservation stations, now that they are fenced and staffed, “is dramatically reduced when you look at the first two weeks of December versus the last two weeks and the first two weeks of January,” he said. “The reduction has been over half of the tonnage.”
He said he thought the problem was one of confusion, since the Joint Tribes subsidize the payment of dumping fees. “With more clarity on hours and days of operation, that confusion will be reduced,” he said.