MIKE STARK Associated Press Writer SKULL VALLEY, Utah (AP)
During a warm spell this fall, vandals hauled 18 decrepit televisions and computers down a narrow gravel road in Utah's picturesque Skull Valley, dumped them on a hillside, blasted them with guns and left them for dead. Nearby on the scrubby valley floor, other i tems have met the same fate: a hot water heater, paint cans, a candy vending machine, a couch and Even a pile of mannequin heads. Illegally dumped garbage is piling up on federal lands, often creating toxic hazards and costly cleanups. And nowhere is it more apparent than on the vast, often-stunning tracts owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the nation's largest landlord with some 412,000 square miles, mostly in 12 Western states. "We can't keep up with it," Ray Kelsey, a BLM outdoor recreation specialist said on a recent trip to an outlaw dump site about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. "It's happening every day." The BLM doesn't keep a nationwide tab on the number of illegal dump sites, but hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent each year to clean them up, said Georgette Fogle, who oversees the BLM's solid waste program from Washington D.C. "Every state has a problem," Fogle said. That includes junk from meth labs in Alaska, solvents in Idaho, tires in Wyoming, burned-out cars in Colorado and washing machines in New Mexico. BLM officials fear more Tvs will be abandoned as part of the switchover from analog to digital signals. And where one pile of garbage shows up, others follow. "If there's trash there already, (people) feel like they can dump their own trash," said Beth Barrie, project manager for Take Pride in America in southern Nevada.