Trash at the Port - Director's Blog
The Port of Brookings Harbor has been experiencing a tsunami of public dumping. Household garbage is found in nearly every garbage can on port property with startling regularity. Residents on the hill above the Port have reported to me that they observe early morning headlights of those donating their garbage for Port disposal daily.
Illegal dumping is a crime and a form of theft of services, as the recipient is burdened with the cost and labor involved in removal and disposal. The Port’s garbage bill is staggering, running between $6,000 and $8,000 per month lately.
During this slow time of the year, the Port’s garbage bill should not be this large. Accordingly, Port staff has removed some of those cans that are most difficult to supervise, including those along Sporthaven Beach. It is the Port’s intention to replace those and other cans during tourist season when there is more of a demand for their use for incidental garbage actually produced on Port property.
Port property brings up another issue relating to the beach: Sporthaven Beach is administered as a state beach by the Oregon Department of State Parks. It seems reasonable that garbage generated by use of a state beach should be the responsibility of the agency managing the beach, not the Port of Brookings Harbor.
I was curious to learn of the policy regarding garbage disposal availability in parking lots adjacent to beaches in our area, so I went for a drive the other day. At the Chrissey Field Visitor’s Center, I found one garbage can located on an island a short distance from the parking lot. A person needs to get out of their car and walk some distance to reach the can. I saw no can adjacent to the trail to the beach there. At the day-use area north of the Winchuck River with beach access, there is no garbage receptacle. At McVay State Park, I noticed that there are no garbage cans available in the parking area, although there is a tiny receptacle for dog waste near the parking lot.
At the Rest area across 101 from Harris Beach, there are no receptacles near the parking lot. At Harris Beach proper, I found one receptacle on an island adjacent to the lower parking lot. At Lone Ranch beach I found no receptacles adjacent to the parking lot. At Whaleshead Beach I found one receptacle by the bathroom which is close to the parking lot. On another trip I stopped at the rest area north of Nesika Beach that is immediately adjacent to the beach. I found no receptacles outside of the bathrooms. At the Port of Brookings Harbor there is a garbage can inside every bathroom. There are garbage cans in and around the Port’s RV park, which can be supervised by port personnel and so are not normally abused.
It appears from my investigation that garbage disposal is a problem for the state parks as well as the Port of Brookings Harbor, which has led them to the policy of “pack it in, pack it out.” The state of Oregon can no more afford to pay for disposal of household garbage than can the Port of Brookings Harbor.
While it may sound easy to say “just arrest the people who are dumping,” in practice that is a lot more difficult. Encumbering an already over-stressed sheriff’s department and court system with numerous dumping violations is not a prospect welcomed by any of those involved. Additionally, my employees(and myself) do not relish digging through other people’s trash to identify it. Nevertheless, the Port is pursuing that course with the remaining cans that receive household garbage regularly.
I remember reading a submission from the Trash Dogs recently concerning their extensive volunteer efforts to address the problem of illegally dumped garbage around the area. The Trash Dogs wondered, after all of their work, if there was an end in sight to their labors. It appears that there is not. From the Port’s perspective, the problem has persisted for years and gotten worse lately. Please understand that Port staff is addressing the problem of illegally dumped trash in the manner that seems most effective. We will continue to work on it.
Port of Brookings Harbor