Douglas County, Oregon
by Kelsea Feola
Douglas County, Oregon is 5,071 square miles out of Oregon's 98,386 total square miles. This translates into 3,240, 360 acres. Of this land, "over 50% of the area is owned by the Federal Government". The U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon/Washington Bureau of Land Management are responsible for managing these lands. The specific ownership breakdown of these acres is demonstrated in the following table :
The population of Douglas County is 100,399, as reported by the 2000 US Census . This population resides in the 12 incorporated cities of Canyonville, Drain, Elkton, Glendale, Myrtle Creek, Oakland, Reedsport, Riddle, Roseburg, Sutherlin, Winston, and Yoncalla. More than 26% of the county's population is centered in Roseburg, it's population being 26,300 . Within the entire county, 21,536.27 acres (33.65 square miles) are zoned as urban. All of these miles are within the city limits of Roseburg and equal out to be less than 1% of the county's area. The following table identifies some other basic demographic details:
Douglas County has a relatively low population as well as a low per capita income when compared with other Oregon counties, especially those west of the Cascades. Despite their low income, it is impressive to note that 81% of people within the county have earned their high school diploma compared with the national average of 80.4%. But, only 13% of Douglas County residents have earned a bachelor's degree or higher degree compared with a national average of 24.4% .
Within the county, the timber and wood products industry is the dominant employer. Approximately 25% of the labor force is employed in forest products. This includes numerous sawmills and veneer plants, one pulp and one particleboard plant, and several shingles, shake, pole and other wood products plants.
"The wood products industry has always been Douglas County's mainstay, as some of the nation's largest timber stands continue to grow here. With 19 percent of the total workforce directly employed in forest harvesting and production, it is estimated that another 30 percent owe their jobs to the necessary support services. Diversification of Douglas County's industrial and economic base is being aggressively pursued, and new enterprises provide additional employment for the highly skilled and motivated labor force."
There is also a small, but active agriculture industry in the largest city of Roseburg. Here, agricultural production provides a total annual income in gross sales of nearly $40 million. The area also raises sheep, cattle and other animals making it a major contributor to the food production industry. Seven wineries also play an employment role by producing award-winning varieties as part of Oregon's burgeoning wine industry . The two smallest regional industries, in terms of employment opportunities, are tourism and fishing.
2. Illegal Dumping Specifics
County management policies
We will now look to the legal methods by which Douglas County residents can dispose of their trash. By determining how garbage is properly serviced, we are provided with a better means for investigating the illegal dumping alternative and why it occurs.
Within Douglas County, there are 9 contracted franchises that provide garbage pick-up service to the entire area; this means that every county resident has access to weekly garbage disposal service. The districts for these companies are divided throughout the county. The franchises are: Southern Oregon Sanitation, South Umpqua Disposal, Sutherlin Sanitary Service, Winston Sanitary Service, Glide Disposal, High Lakes Sanitation, Horning Brothers, North Douglas Sanitation and Roseburg Disposal. These are all privately owned franchises that operate on similar fee structures.
The largest franchise within the county is Roseburg Disposal, servicing the entire urban area. The contract is a weekly residential service that charges an $8 monthly fee for one, 32-gallon receptacle to be emptied. Additional receptacles each cost $5 every time they are serviced. Another option is to pay $14.75 per month and have a 90-gallon can picked up weekly. Recycling pick-up is included in these fees. Roseburg Disposal will not pick up major appliances, but will make special arrangements to dispose of them with the customer. Customers living in remote service areas are required to bring their receptacles to the main road, though, for the weekly service.
Within Douglas County, there are two main municipal landfills. One of these landfills is located in Reedsport and the other in Roseburg. At these landfills, there is no charge for general trash. Within the city limits of Roseburg, customers are allowed an unlimited number of visits per day while outside the city customers are only allowed two visits per day due to the transferring costs . But, there are 12 additional transfer stations located throughout the county. These stations are located in Roseburg, Reedsport, Camas Valley, Elkton, Canyonville, Glendale, Glide, Yoncalla, Myrtle Creek, Oakland, Tiller and Slide Creek. Together, they provide a site for all residents within 15 miles of their homes to legally dispose of their trash. After each working day, the waste collected at these transfer stations is transported to the two main landfills. They are open from 9 am until 5 pm, five days a week and have the same fee structure as the Roseburg and Reedsport municipal landfills.
The fee structure to legally dispose of some materials is based on costs associated with special items such as refrigerators, tires, hazardous materials, asbestos, all appliances, tree stumps, vehicle parts and petroleum contaminated soil (PCS). These costs are specific: residential small appliances residential are $5, refrigerators are $15, commercial size appliances are $25. Tires hold their own pay scale which is as follows: up to 15 inches are $1 off the rim, light tires up to 19.5 inches are $2 and anything larger is 10 cents per pound. Petroleum contaminated soil costs $72 for a permit and then $32 per the ton to dump.
b. History and severity of illegal dumping
Since the Roseburg Transfer Site was purchased by Douglas County from private owners in 1973, the garbage disposal has been free of charge. The county saw it as a necessary public service to combat what was then seen as an illegal dumping problem. According to Douglas County Public Works Director, Robert Paul, the county was attempting to ease the environmental burden caused by private dumping on residential lands. "After World War II, families took to dumping on their own lands and there were growing piles of trash throughout Douglas County all the way into the 1960's. We initiated a free trash disposal to fix this." Paul also explained that although the county participates in the clean up of illegal dumping, it is hardly a significant problem.
For the lands owned by the United States Forest Service in the area, the story is similar. Cheryl Walters, US Forest Service Partnership Coordinator, explains that illegal dumping on USFS land is a small issue and always has been. The problem, she suspects, was spearheaded by a campaign that began in 1984. The program posted flyers at trailheads and parking lots asking people not to litter. She reports that the slogans of the campaign ranged from "Pack it in, pack it out" to "Give a hoot, don't pollute". It was at this time that Woodsy the Owl emerged as the national symbol for the agency. But, despite this success, Walters says "we choose not to spend our budget on those type of PR materials at this time. If we had more illegal dumping, we would obviously make different choices as to where our dollars get spent."
The Oregon Bureau of Land Management has a different view, however, of the severity of illegal dumping. "Our BLM rangers consider illegal dumping on BLM-administered public lands a huge problem," explained BLM public affairs officer, Bob Hall. He said that it has been a consistent problem. Three years ago, the BLM law enforcement rangers initiated a specific funding project for more money to cleanup sites. Last year alone, there were over 40 separate cases of illegal dumping, which included vehicles, drug lab remains, litter and hazardous materials.
c. Deterrents, patrols and programs against illegal dumping
Robert Paul explains that the county spends little compared to other agencies on illegal dumping cleanup. He says that because the sites are mostly on BLM land, it doesn't fall to the county to clean them. Still, one Waste Reduction Manager, Terri Peterson, is employed to organize public and private awareness about the alternatives to illegal dumping. Peterson says that her role is to let people know all legal trash disposal options, "My job is to let the general public and the people with private interests know where to take what and how much or how little it will cost them." She serves also as a type of liaison between the agencies of the county, "Because public awareness helps everyone's problem, I basically work for all of the agencies".
The county has, however, enacted ordinances that charge a $500 fine to first time illegal dumping offenders and a $1000 fine for any repeat offenders. There are also many instances when the county will waive fees to legally dispose of appliances, tires and other waste that are recovered from illegal sites by the BLM. Additionally, the county assisted the BLM with the installation of surveillance devices to potentially prosecute those that illegally dumped. This project, however, was soon abandoned after it proved to be too costly of an investment to pay off with conviction fines.
The U.S. Forest Service currently supports no effective program against dumping. Cheryl Walters reports, "Our law enforcement resources are stretched thin, so little time
The Bureau of Land Management, however, felt that their problem with illegal disposal was significant enough to warrant a full-time employee working toward a solution. So, law enforcement rangers presented a proposal three years ago to a citizen advisory committee known as the Resource Advisory Committee or RAC. They sought the board's discretion over the spending of certain funds. Their efforts resulted in the creation of a deputy law enforcement position whose role revolves around combating illegal dumping on public lands. Currently, the position is in line for re-appointment since the last officer has recently stepped down.
d. Costs of Illegal Dumping
The costs incurred by the agencies working on illegal dumping vary. Robert Paul estimates that Douglas County spends approximately $30,000 a year simply cleaning up litter on roadways. Citizens on probation or parole are organized and perform bimonthly patrols to properly dispose of litter on highways. These cleanup voyages end up costing the county $300 per day. Despite the fact that illegal dumping is a minimal issue to the county, they still employ one Illegal Dumping Compliance Officer, Chris McCullough. McCullough's job is solely to work with cases of illegal trash disposal. Having no budget for cleaning up sites, he is allowed to waive the disposal fees it would cost the general public to dump trash at transfer stations.
McCullough commented that, in the past, there had been proposals for lifting the charge on particular items to encourage legal disposal. But, the county has not acted on these policy changes due to the costs of processing specific materials. He describes these costs to legally dump waste as being a necessary component to maintaining the county's budget, "The average monthly fees for the appliances is $2,155 per month and for tires is $528 per month. If the county did not charge these fees, this would be about the amount it would cost us to accept and dispose of the materials." McCullough goes on to explain that there is no evidence to suggest that if the fees were lifted, it would save the county money as far as illegal dumping cleanup. "Without fees, we would still be spending money cleaning some dumping up and potentially spending more money to process legally dropped off tires and appliances."
Waste Reduction Manager, Terri Peterson, agrees and feels as though re-enacting fees for disposing of household trash would help the county in the long run. "I think that when the budget is so tight, people are going to look at other programs that need money and decide free trash dumping is no longer an option," she explains. Peterson reports that her annual budget for ensuring public awareness is $60,000, not including salary. The money goes towards television advertisements, brochures and several events that the county's Recycling and Waste Reduction Division holds each year. She goes on to say that Douglas County is one of the only systems in the country that doesn't charge for general disposal and that disposing of trash for free costs close to $900,000 per year.
The U.S. Forest Service uses their own money to pay for the cleanup of illegal sites that they find. This often only consists of towing an abandoned vehicle, cost of $250, or picking up trash and disposing of it at a free facility.
The BLM has a broad spectrum of fees associated with this problem. Bob Hall describes, "The man hours spent annually investigating, filling out reports and so forth adds up to approximately $12,000 a year. That does not include the cost of towing abandoned vehicles, which is about $250 per vehicle. Last year 12 such vehicles were removed from public lands." These costs vary annually as do the number of rangers or officials working on the problem. There is also a seasonal distinction in the number of people devoted to working on the issue.
e. Who is responsible for cleanup? What are the common items?
All agencies agreed that the responsibility and cost for cleanup falls to whoever is affected by the illegal dumping. The BLM carries the greatest weight in this realm. Fortunately, cleaning up sites is a coordinated effort amongst all the agencies in the county and, oftentimes, the public.
Robert Paul, for instance, described the efforts of an ATV/Off-Road Vehicle club that does annual "spring-cleaning" on BLM lands where they ride their machines. The BLM rangers assist them in their cleanup and the county that waives their dumping fees at legal sites. These groups find a large amount of tires and small appliances and often take them to the Steel Outlet, a legal disposal facility where appliances can be dropped off free of charge.
Despite these coordinated efforts, Bob Hall explains, "Illegal dumping is a growing problem throughout the west, and federal and state law enforcement personnel and local city and county partners are dealing with it constantly, doing their best with the tools they have, but the problem does seem to be growing with increasing and expanding human populations and shrinking agency budgets." His emphasis is on the lack of funding that makes it difficult to assign responsibility to one agency alone. It is generally understood that budgets hinder all parties' ability to combat illegal dumping. Hall also says that most of the sites involve household trash and that this is a year-round problem.
Cheryl Walters says the most commonly illegally abandoned items are vehicles. "We get about a half dozen abandoned vehicles each year that stop working, so people just leave them." Walters also explains that the USFS is responsible for this cleanup as well as the disposal of general trash in their area. The hunters in the area might be a factor for the relatively clean forest, as Walters explains, "We find hunters to be
All three agencies reported that the illegal dumping of tires, household garbage and appliances was the most common trend. Chris McCullough reported, "On an average monthly basis, we collect 263 appliances and 465 tires at the Reedsport and Roseburg sites." Tires and appliances both carry fees when being legally dumped while trash is free of charge. He also explained that the costs associated with tires, appliances and the other items to legally dispose of them are too high for the county to supplement. "The fees collected cover the cost of accepting and disposing of the tires and appliances so, there is no cost to the county for this service. The county also receives some money from recycling the steel from the appliances," he emphasizes that the system is not flawless, but it is improving.
f. Consequences for Illegal Dumping
Unfortunately, all researched agencies reported little success in any types of fine collection or even the conviction of illegal dumpers. Paul explained that since the county took over waste management in the early 1970's he estimates only 5-10 convictions. "The problem is that it is really hard to prove who actually dumped the trash", he says. "We can find a person's name on an envelope, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they dumped it, especially for the courts." Consequently, the fines imposed have been minimal thus far.
The U.S. Forest Service's actions have only been to seek reimbursement for fees incurred while legally disposing waste. "Vehicles are the easiest to trace and sometimes we find the owner for reimbursement, but otherwise we generally don't do an investigation," Walters explained.
For the BLM, Hall says that the rangers prefer violators be sentenced to community service, such as picking up trash, rather than fines or jail time. Unfortunately, due to the lack of convictions or successful imposition of consequences, most of the actual cleanup on public lands is still accomplished by BLM personnel and/or volunteers.
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