Don’t dump Idaho

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The sun is cresting the horizon as my dog, Trap, and I head out to do some weekend exploring.

There’s nothing more fun than getting some dew on our feet, seeking a whiff of spring, and enjoying Idaho’s outdoors. But sadly, not more than 100 yards from the road, we are greeted with shards of glass, piles of shotgun shells and household garbage. Not the ideal scene of outdoor Idaho I was anticipating.

Unfortunately, illegal dumping is happening all over Idaho’s public lands. Imagine being a river ranger on Idaho’s beautiful Snake River. Your job is to keep recreation on the river safe, and to help people gain a greater understanding of the river as both a resource and an incredible force of nature. But you end up spending most of your time picking up human waste and trash scattered along the shorelines and campgrounds.

You wish you could focus on things like safety, environmental education and recreational use. But instead you have to clean up after people. That is the grim reality of what our river rangers do far too much of the time.

Dumping is a constant problem nationwide on America’s public lands and particularly here in our backyard. It is especially noticeable near Menan Butte and along the South Fork of the Snake River, a known national treasure and a much sought-after Blue Ribbon Fishery.

Generous citizens and service groups donate their time and energy to repetitively clean- up popular areas on public lands near our communities. Junk cars, old computers, refrigerators, diapers, bottles, tires, dead animals, hazardous materials, household trash – you name it! – all mar the landscape despite numerous past efforts to curtail illegal dumping.

It takes too many of your hard-earned tax dollars, too much of my staff’s time, and too much of our community’s energy to clean up behind individuals who choose to use our public lands to illegally dump their unwanted household items and trash. Junk is clearly Idaho’s OTHER invasive species.

Public lands north of Menan Butte directly across from the Madison County landfill continue to be abused by people who are simply too lazy to separate their trash and dispose of it where it’s appropriate. We’ve had amazing groups—your friends and neighbors and local youth groups—assist in a variety of clean-ups, but immediately after the area is cleared, the trash starts collecting again. It’s sad and it’s frustrating.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in partnership with Idaho Firewise, is sponsoring a project across Idaho to shed some harsh light on illegal dumping on public lands. “Don’t Dump Idaho!” is the phrase of the year and hopefully you’re going to hear that phrase more and more – in newspapers, on television commercials, on billboards and in other venues throughout eastern Idaho. One of the main billboard sites will be located between Madison and Jefferson Counties. You’re going to see our campaign “Junk: Idaho’s other invasive species. Don’t dump Idaho,” unfold in the next couple of months.

You can visit for other stories, photos and information about illegal dumping occurring in the state.

We have a ton of amazing things to see and do on our public lands. While most of us respect the need to “pack it in and pack it out,” some don’t, and that translates into degrading the area for others and places a huge burden on the limited staff who tries to maintain a quality experience for responsible users.

Please help us help you enjoy your public lands by keeping them clean and healthy. Don’t dump Idaho.

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