Oh beautiful, for smoky skies,
and bonfires all aflame,
for rubbish mountain majesty
and garbage on the plain,
man dumps debris on thee,
and kills the pines
with waste designs
from sea to slimy sea.
Here in Silt, we follow suit,
to do our filthy best,
to dump and trash and just pollute
the land from east to west.
BLM, oh BLM,
It’s there we dump for free,
our empty cans, our white sedans,
or just our old TV.
come look at us in Silt,
We dump our crap on BLM
and don’t have any guilt!
On April 21 of last year, 67 volunteers collected garbage on BLM land north of Silt. There was enough trash to overload a 40-yard dumpster, two flatbed trucks and one truck just for all the tires and batteries.
The BLM posted signs at the entrance and at prime dump locations within the area to make everyone aware of their plans to close the land to ALL motorized vehicles if the dumping and littering continued.
On Tuesday, April 9, I walked beyond the east area entrance of the BLM for one hour. This is what I saw: Bud, Bud Light, Natural Ice, Bacardi, Nantucket Nectars and Coke bottles and cans. Cigarette packs, Sobe-Drive, more Bud, Michelob and Squirt bottles, plastic bottles, a car or truck windshield, a motorcycle grip and candy wrappers. (All of these items were within 100 feet of a “Proposed Closure” sign.)
As I continued up the road, I added to the list – plastic water bottle, glass in a firepit, paper bag, cigarette pack, condom package, napkin, organic debris (sunflowers, fruit tree branches), paper sheets, napkins, rubber hose, McDonald’s cup, various piles of broken glass, Corona and Coors Light bottles, two sheep carcasses, one elk carcass, one mule deer carcass, a kids metal saucer, a BLM sign with two shotgun blasts through it, a pile of sheep wool and some sort of animal parts (raw flesh wrapped in two plastic bags and green deck carpeting).
The prime shooting area was surprisingly free of debris compared to last year. There were hundreds of small caliber shells, but not nearly as many shotgun shells or clay pigeons. I did find metal parts, cinder blocks, paper bags, plastic cartons and bottles, Johnny Walker bottles, plastic cups, cartridge containers, a USA Today paper, Ice House beer bottles, a metal bucket, a propane canister, an aerosol lid, Bud Light and Coors cans, Twisted Tea bottles, Budweiser bottles, a February 28, 2002, issue of Wheels and Deals and plywood – all used as targets. Several new trees were cut in half from the shooting and someone threw their Subway lunch bag out, but other than that, it wasn’t too bad until I turned south.
South of the shooting area there were plastic six-pack holders, a headlight, a torn BLM closure sign, miscellaneous car parts, two elk carcasses and one complete automobile (a white Oldsmobile Omega) shot to pieces with shotgun blasts and other large caliber bullets, a Bud Light can, a pile of shotgun shells and various car parts strewn on the road.
West of the shooting area, approximately 75 purple paint balls, one dead black cat, one dead dog (looks like a golden retriever), a new road ripped through the sage brush (approx. 100 yards), a wood palette and a pile of wood pieces, a cardboard “Blue Rock” targets box, two mule deer carcasses, one elk carcass, numerous shotgun shells, numerous clay pigeons, two targets nailed to plywood on a tree, plastic garbage bags, and a hubcap.
In a firepit there were several metal signs attached to a charred post. A BLM “Entering Public Lands – Help Keep Your Land Clean” sign, a “No Dumping Allowed” sign, “Please Close the Gate” sign, and a “Leaving Pubic Lands” sign. They were all full of bullet holes. Another “Proposed Closure” sign was removed and the post was mangled.
In addition to that, there were several broken CD’s, cigarette packages, Corona bottles, wire, cardboard sheets, a shot up TV and a bike tire. Add to that Pepsi bottles, Miller bottles, a queen size mattress, two sheep carcasses and four new roads. Two of the roads tear up a hillside and two of the roads rip parallel through the sage brush for hundreds of yards to avoid trenched out mudholes on the main roads.
I drove around to the east side of this Silt Mesa BLM area and discovered a scorched earth party area. About 23 various trees were cut down or pulled out by their roots with vehicles. They were burned whole on a huge bonfire. In about 20 minutes I inventoried about 75 pieces of trash within a 50-yard circle. This area was also trash free one year ago.
On April 21, the BLM will decide whether or not to close this entire area to all motorized vehicles based upon the amount of trash they find there. If the refuse is not cleaned up, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what they’ll do. The responsibility is ours.
Bernie Boettcher’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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