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News Detail




BLM Montana Employees Continue Community Efforts to Keep Illegal Dump Site Clean


Bureau: Bureau of Land Management


The hot tub may have been the biggest piece of garbage Anna Courtney found at an illegal dump site just outside of Livingston, Mont., but it wasn’t the most surprising. That dubious honor belonged to an entire set of encyclopedias scattered across the ground.

“Somebody didn’t want to learn today,” Courtney quipped as she picked up another handful of litter and stuffed it into an already-overstuffed sack. Shotgun shells were scattered all around her feet like bright bits of confetti.

Courtney, a soils technician, was one of nine employees from the Bureau of Land Management’s Butte Field Office who spent several days recently cleaning up the three-acre site on Harvat’s Flats. It was a daunting task — especially since crews of BLM workers and volunteers from the Livingston community had been doing the same thing for years.

BLM Archaeologist Carrie Kiely (right) and others bag trash during a day-long dump site cleanup near Livingston, Mont.

BLM Archaeologist Carrie Kiely (right) and others bag trash during a day-long dump site cleanup near Livingston, Mont. Photo by BLM.
“This place has attracted dumping since before 1987, when I first came here and saw it,” said John Sandford, a natural resource specialist with the Butte Field Office. “In the early 2000s, a career seasonal employee and I cleaned up the site, and took one or two loads to the dump. We also coordinated with the county to have an abandoned van removed from the site.”

Sandford remembers posting a "No Dumping" sign. But six months later, the garbage had accumulated again.

This year, the cleanup crew hauled 12 tons of materials to the Livingston transfer station, about four miles away.

Anna Courtney, a soils specialist with the BLM’s Butte Field Office, helps clean up an illegal dump site near Livingston, Montana, on Aug. 13.

Anna Courtney, a soils specialist with the BLM’s Butte Field Office, helps clean up an illegal dump site near Livingston, Mont. Photo by BLM.
As she took a break from bending and stooping in the late-summer heat, Courtney ran through an itemized list of what the BLM crew had collected over the past two days: “A shopping cart, animal carcasses, roofing shingles, a TV, random pairs of shoes, and a beer keg.”

Courtney shook her head as she looked around at the ground which sparkled with broken glass. “I’m surprised by how much there is,” she said. “Originally, I thought I’d grab one or two people from my office to get the job done. And then I came out here, and I was like ‘Whoa!’”

The dump is “an attractive nuisance,” said Corey Meier, supervisory land use specialist with the Butte Field Office. “We’re determined not just to clean it up, but to decommission it from further use.”

Plans call for the BLM to re-contour and re-seed the site, remove the approaches off the adjacent county road and put up a fence with the assistance of the neighboring land owner.

The BLM is not closing off public access to the site, however. “People can still hunt out there and do everything they used to do — just not dump,” Meier said.

So, those people looking to get rid of an unwanted hot tub will now have to find a new place to abandon it.

Story and photos by David Abrams, public affairs officer, BLM Western Montana District
Oct. 24, 2013