I firmly believe anyone who loves the outdoors and wide-open spaces is lucky to call Idaho home. Elmore County-in particular- is full of places to explore. Almost any type of outdoor recreation we want to participate in is just a short drive away.
I also believe it is our responsibility as members of this county and state to take care of our public lands. That is why I find it so disheartening to repeatedly see photos like the one on the front page of this week’s issue of the Mountain Home News.
I spend a lot of time sitting in County Commissioner Meetings and there is hardly any that the issue of littering isn’t brought up in conversation.
I grew up being taught that we are stewards of the land. That it is our responsibility as Idahoans to care for what has been passed down to us and to keep it pristine for future generations. I have brought my children up to leave an area in better shape than it was in when they arrived there.
As a family we spend a lot of time taking advantage of all the public land at our disposal-hiking, fishing and camping. I always expect the kids to do their share to clean up after us and the less conscientious outdoor recreationists who were there before us.
However, there have been times that before I am even done setting up camp my children have already filled multiple garbage bags of trash, just so we can enjoy the view without looking at what resembles a dumping site. That is completely unacceptable. And that isn’t even counting what I pull out of fire pits.
As a side note, I should not have to shovel mounds of broken glass, bullet casings and charred beer cans out of a firepit before I can even think about starting a fire safely. Those types of items, as well as plastic or Styrofoam, belong in your trash, not in your fire. It’s not good for the environment, is a safety hazard and truthfully it is just laziness on the previous campers’ part.
It is bad enough not to clean up after yourselves when recreating, but what truly saddens me is there are people who actually load their vehicles full of waste with the intention of dumping it on public land.
Elmore County is not a landfill, yet people feel it is okay to dump items like tires, televisions and old freezers and refrigerators out in our desert instead of taking them to the landfill. Heck, some of those people literally drive past the Bennett Road Transfer Station just to dump their trash. Why?
We are fortunate to live in a county that makes the effort to keep landfill use affordable for taxpayers. They have even gone as far as having landfill employees certified to remove Freon from appliances, in an attempt, to stop people from illegally dumping them. Almost anywhere else you go Freon removal and disposal costs upwards of $75 dollars, here it costs $25. They will even come and pick it up from your home for an extra $10, all you have to do is get it to the curb.
Each resident has an allotment of 2,000 lbs of household trash a year. When I have spoken to employees there I have been told that most people never come close to hitting their maximum amount. They are open six days a week for nine hours a day and are a very short drive from town. There is no excuse not to use the landfill.
So, my question to people who think they have the right to dump unwanted items out by the reservoir or in any of our other areas of public access is: WHY?
Is it because you are lazy or have we become a society that is so entitled that it is okay because someone will come along behind you and clean up your mess?
I enjoy being able to take my dogs for a run out by Old Oregon Trail Road, Hot Creek Road etc. Out there they have room to run and I can throw a tennis ball where they are able to be turned loose to enjoy themselves. I sure don’t want that ruined for me and my animals just because you couldn’t find the time or energy to take your trash to its legitimate drop off area and I know most citizens here agree with me.
Next time you are out enjoying our public land please clean up after yourself. If you are a person who would rather dump your fridge or old mattress out near the reservoir just stop and think about what you are doing to our land.
I don’t know about you, but I love our home, I love being allowed to access these beautiful places and I don’t want it ruined for me, my children or future generations just because someone couldn’t be bothered to clean up after themselves or make a trip to the dump.
Let’s keep Elmore County clean and a place we can all enjoy.