The used and broken sofa appeared alongside the roadway overnight. Laying on its side, it was just a few feet from the shoulder of the paved two-lane rural road. At first glance, you may have thought that it might have fallen off a truck by accident, but a longer look showed that it wasn’t alone, there were a couple of plants and other trash next to it.
How did it get there?
Someone apparently felt that the 15-minute drive to the free disposal location off Mesquite was just too far away and that tossing it into the desert was a much better option. It is not.
A couple of days after the couch appeared in the desert, someone spray-painted “the dump is free” on the white underside of the couch that was turned on its side and facing the roadway. It was a sarcastic message to those that feel they can dump whatever they want into the desert, but unfortunately, that message was probably never seen by the guilty party.
I am sure that they fled the scene immediately after they dumped the couch and haven’t revisited the scene of their crime. I made a mental note to pick it up when I made a run to the dump that coming weekend, but a good Samaritan beat me to it, and the offending couch disappeared from the roadway a couple of days later.
The mystery couch dumping is not an isolated incident. Take a drive down any street and you will find cans, bottles, and fast food wrappers and even bags of household trash littering the roadway.
You have to wonder why some people feel that it is okay to dump their trash anywhere they want. Is it laziness? Is it a lack of respect for our desert and the residents that live here? Maybe it’s the same mentality you see from drivers on our streets that pass you in a school zone, speed through a residential neighborhood, or don’t pull over for emergency vehicles.It’s a self-centered “it’s all about me” attitude. Well, it’s not all about you, this is a community of residents that like it here and want to keep it clean and not looking like a war zone.
Fortunately, there are people here that take the initiative to clean up Pahrump. There are groups of volunteers in our community that regularly schedule events to remove trash weekly or quarterly. There are also individuals who choose to clean a particular street or neighborhood themselves. You will see them wearing a safety vest with a trash bag in one hand and a trash picker in the other.
The results of their efforts can be seen by the alarming number of bags of trash that they fill as they walk along the roadway. They all deserve a huge thank you for their efforts in cleaning up our community.
In addition to those efforts, it is going to take more groups and more individuals to clean up what gets dumped along the roadways, in neighborhoods, and in the desert.
Several groups, coordinating and working together by targeting areas of Pahrump geographically and sharing resources can be more effective than working on their own.
If you don’t have time to join in a group effort, maybe you can take 30 minutes once a month and walk your neighborhood picking up trash near your home. Remember the idiom: “Many hands make light work”. The more people that get involved in cleaning our area up, the easier it is to accomplish the task.
It also takes vigilance to discourage those individuals who seem to think they can do whatever they want with their trash.
You don’t need to confront someone when you see them dumping their trash illegally but you can take a picture and call the sheriff’s office. They will follow up and see if they can cite whoever was responsible for dumping the trash. A picture of them illegally dumping and a license plate gives the sheriff’s deputy what they need to follow up.
You can also report illegal dumping to the state of Nevada Environmental Health Department. You can even collect a reward for turning someone in.
Because this is also a statewide problem, there are regulations on the books for the entire state about illegal dumping.
Nevada Revised Statute NRS 444.630 prohibits the dumping of any solid waste, including junk vehicles, garbage, rubbish, construction/demolition debris, yard debris or other refuse at any place other than at a facility designated for such purpose.
Unauthorized dumping is a misdemeanor, subject to criminal and civil penalties, community service sentences and revocation of business licenses. Any health officer, game warden, police officer, sheriff’s deputy, or other peace officers specifically designated by the local government may issue citations for violations of NRS 444.630. The solid waste management authority offers a reward of $100 for information leading to the conviction of any person violating NRS 444.630.
If we discourage illegal dumping and participate in cleaning up our town, we will make headway against those who want to turn the desert into their own private mystery couch dump site.
Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at email@example.com