Sites chosen for Rangely-area cleanup
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Outdoor Recreation Planner Aaron Grimes, who initiated the meeting, spoke with representatives from the Town of Rangely, the Rio Blanco County Road and Bridge Department and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to prioritize dump sites in the area and discuss future prevention efforts.
Three sites initially identified as key dumping areas: state land board property near County Road 23 south of Rangely; a ravine on BLM land one-quarter mile east of Highway 139; and an expanse of BLM land one mile north of County Road 1 toward Blue Mountain; narrowed in scope when, after the meeting, officials toured the areas and discovered that most of the trash at the Blue Mountain site had already been removed. Who moved the debris is unknown.
Officials targeted the other locations for cleanup in the coming months or perhaps even weeks, depending on how quickly Grimes and CPW district wildlife managers Terry Wygant and Tom Davies can get approval from BLM specialists and the Colorado State Land Board.
“We need to be in line with the rules and regulations,” Grimes said. “But I’m hoping to tick some of these (sites) off the list with our specialists and get going on them.”
Road and Bridge district supervisor Stan Rasmussen said that while much of the trash can be hauled to the landfill, Road and Bridge director Dave Morlan will need to assist in identifying and handling hazardous materials that may have been dumped.
Rangely Town Manager Peter Brixius emphasized that agencies should tackle only what they can reasonably accomplish in a given time frame and focus on education and awareness as important aspects of the solution.
“It would be nice to target one or two sites per year — significant sites — and start getting those cleaned up,” Brixius said. “If we focus on too many areas, we’re going to spread it too thin.”
Many people are unaware of when the Rangely Trash Service transfer station is open and what items the station will accept, Brixius said. Getting the word out about who can remove refrigerants and accept Hazmat items, along with promoting legal dumping options, would be steps in the right direction, he said.
Officials agreed that illegal dumping would also slow as people became aware of county and federal officers stepping up law enforcement efforts and administering fines.
Rangely Police Chief Vince Wilczek said that ensuring dump cases end up in federal court would also help deter would-be offenders.
“The county needs to work with the BLM and then charge them in federal court,” he said. “Then it needs to be published in the paper with their names … We may know about it, but if the general public doesn’t, then nothing (changes). We need to let people know, ‘Hey, these people were identified and charged and are going to federal court.’ That’s going to wake people up.”
Officials at Monday’s meeting discussed road closures, signage and cameras as other possible deterrents.
Last month, Rio Blanco County’s information technology department launched the pilot program of a quarter-million-dollar county-wide camera system that, if all goes as planned, will capture images of thefts and illegal dumping as early as next summer.
Huitt and others expressed their desire that early efforts result in follow-through considering that past conversations about dumping have not materialized into action.
Several sites on Gillum and Chase draws and at Texas Beach are targeted for cleanup at some point, whether via agency collaboration or through group volunteer efforts.
Grimes said he hopes to utilize county equipment in a one- or two-day cleanup that would tackle the state land board and BLM dump sites in one concerted effort.