More than 100 show to help get Greenhorn clean
The Greenhorn Creek area east of Grass Valley – one of Nevada County’s most infamous illegal dumping grounds – got a needed cleanup Saturday.
More than 100 off-road enthusiasts from a number of four-wheel-drive clubs joined forces to haul out tons of junk – ranging from basic household garbage to wrecked cars – from the river bottom and surrounding hills.
“We’ve got engine blocks, we’ve got mattresses, we’ve got everything,” said James, an employee with the county’s Department of Transportation and Sanitation who was there on his own time, but didn’t want to give his last name.
In fact, the cleanup effort even turned up a blue The Union newspaper rack, along with scrap metal, washing machines, computers, TVs – you name it.
The third annual Greenhorn Clean Up was sponsored by Sierra Xtreme, 4X4 Labs and J&J Motorsports.
Other local businesses, including Gold-N-Green Equipment Rental, Robinson Enterprises and Fischer Towing, also pitched in to support the effort.
Doug McBurnie of Grass Valley brought a backhoe to hoist out the heavy stuff while people toting garbage bags picked trash out of the trees.
The off-roaders there to clean up the mess made it clear that they’re not to blame for the blight.
“Everyone thinks it’s the Jeepers and four-wheelers who are dumping up here,” said Sierra Xtreme co-owner Keven Palmer. “But we don’t bring our trash with us to dump, and we always haul out more than we take in.”
Other four-wheelers at Saturday’s cleanup said illegal dumpers come from far and near.
Some are just too lazy to take their trash to the county transfer station and some can’t afford – or won’t pay – the dump fees, they said.
Sierra Xtreme co-owner Stephen Smith moved from England to Nevada County three years ago.
“We didn’t have areas like this where you could take your four-wheeler out and play,” Smith said. “To have this opportunity on your back doorstep and then have people come out here and ruin it is just sickening.”
Bill and Kathy Stayner of Slough House brought the family up to Greenhorn Creek to help with the cleanup.
“The four-wheelers aren’t the ones doing the dumping,” Bill Stayner said. “Out on the trails where only four-wheelers can go, there isn’t any trash.”
Shawn Beachell, a Robinson Enterprises employee who helped organize the cleanup, said he and his fellow four-wheelers have a message for those responsible for the mess at Greenhorn Creek.
“Illegal dumping will no longer be tolerated out here,” Beachell said. “Irresponsible people are ruining it for everyone, and we’re not going to put up with that.”
Because the Sheriff’s Office can’t patrol the remote area on a regular basis, the off-roaders said they’ll take it upon themselves to police the sprawling creek bed.
“We generally speak up when we’re here in numbers, but we don’t advise confronting illegal dumpers when you’re alone,” Bill Stayner said.
“Take down a license plate number and call the authorities,” Kathy Stayner said.
Other off-roaders said they’ll start taking cameras to the creek bed to document illegal dumping and other illicit activities common in the area.
Smith and Palmer found some utility bills with names and addresses among the trash and will report the information to the Sheriff’s Office and county code enforcement.
Under county code, illegal dumping is a misdemeanor and fines can be levied depending on the amount and severity of the dumping. Responsible parties are also required to clean up, pay disposal fees and mitigate any damage to property.
4X4 Labs owner Alan Lunghi said the off-roaders have been planning Saturday’s cleanup for four or five months and stressed the effort wasn’t due to recent articles in the newspaper.
“The only way this is all going to go away – the illegal dumping – is through education and parents teaching their kids how to respect the land,” Lunghi said.
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