Trash mecca gets clean-up |

Trash mecca gets clean-up

Eileen JoyceRoad maintenance worker Paul Riley hooks a boat filled with clothing to a bulldozer at Deadman's Flat Monday.
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Richard Mylin is among many residents near Deadmans Flat who are tired of the beer-drinking rowdies, the trespassing all-terrain vehicles and people who treat the rugged, dusty terrain as a dump.

Refrigerators, TVs, tires, mattresses, clothes and trash of all kinds lay in clumps where Squirrel Creek Road and South Ponderosa Way meet near Highway 20.

“I’d love to see the Sheriff’s Department start catching these people and, as their reward for dumping their garbage, make them take it out at their own expense,” Mylin said.

More patrols and stricter enforcement of littering laws are planned. But the first phase in overhauling the area started Monday with a massive cleanup effort by Nevada County workers.

Starting north of Highway 20 in the first of three stages, workers began collecting an estimated 68 tons of trash and recyclable materials. An estimated 75 tons await south of the highway, and another 86 tons is expected to be gathered from a nearby mine shaft.

“It’s going to take a community effort to keep this from growing back,” said Grant Eisen of the county Environmental Health Department.

He watched as a loader operator stuffed a fiberglass boat into a truck. Crews earlier filled two large trucks with tires to take to the McCourtney Road Transfer Station for recycling. Lead worker Charlie Luckinbill found a barrel full of automotive grease.

Abandoned refrigerators and air conditions will be drained of freon, and as much scrap metal as possible will be recycled.

Workers were warned about the possibility of finding hazardous materials, including methamphetamine labs.

“Also, it’s marijuana season,” Eisen said. “We don’t want to hit any booby traps.”

Eisen helped get $30,000 in grants for the cleanup from the California Integrated Waste Management Board. The Deadmans Flat properties were eligible because they’re privately owned and zoned agricultural, dumping has created a public nuisance, and the problem wasn’t created by the property owner, Eisen said.

Many trespassers mistakenly believe the land is owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. It isn’t, but BLM does have neighboring property.

The area targeted Monday is owned by Auburn resident Bob Sutherland. He was undergoing medical treatment and couldn’t be reached for comment, according to Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Hughes.

For years, Hughes has fielded complaints from residents upset about ongoing problems.

Mylin is among the frustrated, but he questioned the wisdom of using public money to clean up private land.

Hughes called the cleanup a neighborhood-quality issue. And while past cleanups have merely cleared space for more garbage, he said routine patrols will help keep the area cleaner than it has been.

“It’s to the benefit of all of Squirrel Creek,” he said.

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