ROSEBURG — Woodlands and forests around Douglas County have been accumulating piles of garbage since the region started charging for trash disposal at the dump.
The county has seen a 65 percent increase in littering calls since implementing a $3-per-can fee at the dump.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 71 litter-related calls since July 1, up from 43 calls during the same time period in 2014.
“It’s a problem,” said Rick Held, a timber deputy with the sheriff’s office who patrols the forests while contracted out to the Bureau of Land Management and Douglas Timber Operators.
“It’s such an eyesore, and when people dump trash, they’ll dump five or six garbage bags,” he said. “And then within a few days, the animals will get into the bags, and the trash will get strewn everywhere. And it makes a giant mess.”
Even without seeing the data, Held said, he’s noticed an increase in the number of locations where people are dumping garbage.
In early November, deputies got a report about a large dump on a Seneca Jones Timber Co. landing. They found mail belonging to a residence in Sutherlin, and the residents told them they paid their neighbor to take the garbage to the dump.
But the neighbor told deputies he chucked the trash in the woods when he realized he didn’t have enough money for the dump fee after refueling his truck.
The man was cited for offensive littering, which can carry a fine of up to $1,250 — enough to cover dropping 416 bags of garbage at the dump.
“As I told the guy, he drove farther out Marvin Hill than it would have taken him to drive to the dump in Oakland,” Held said. “But he told me he just didn’t have the money, at $3 a bag to pay the fees.”
Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice says the county anticipated an increase in illegal dumping and tried to accommodate it in the budget.
“The situation for us was that we didn’t really have the revenue to deal with illegal dumping before we implemented the fee, but we built into the landfill budget some money for work crew supervision for illegal dumpsites,” Boice said.