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Trash dumping an unsightly fact of life in Auburn, Placer County

Thrift, amnesty day seen as possible solutions to abandoned heaps of trash
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - The trashing of Auburn is going strong, with a check at several locations popular with dumpers liberally peppered with the detritus of modern living. Next to the Union Pacific tracks on an Auburn Folsom overpass in Auburn, someone has left their sofa and it has slowly been eviscerated of its stuffing by visitors who have also left boxes that once contained beer bottles. Off New Airport Road, at the end of a rutted road bordered by star thistle, people have dumped old carpeting, boards and the remains of a car’s cooling system. It’s a sight that’s repeated in remote locations throughout the Auburn area as people make the decision to avoid taking sofas, mattresses, tires, construction equipment and other surplus possessions they no longer want to the local transfer station. Supervisor Jim Holmes said he gets frequent phone calls and will go to a dumping site to check out the amount of material left there. He’ll also put in a call to the Placer County Public Works Department to pick it up if it’s on county right-of-way or property. Holmes said he also gets complaints at municipal advisory committee meetings, especially from the Newcastle and Penryn areas, which he’ll drive out to inspect. But if the dump is on private property – as has been the case recently at one site off Clark Tunnel Road – then the owner is responsible, he said. “It’s nothing new,” Holmes said. “It’s been going on since there was trash. The things we see are mattresses, sofas and tires.” Holmes said Auburn Recology helps by accepting recycling materials like cardboard, motor oil and aluminum at no charge but does charge for the larger items. Another widely used dumping ground has been the Auburn State Recreation Area, a fact that vexes longtime trail user Rex Maynard of Auburn. “I use it a lot and there isn’t a day that I don’t go for a walk or hike that I don’t come back with something in my pocket,” Maynard said. During the twice-yearly canyon cleanups sponsored by Auburn environmental group Protect American River Canyons, Maynard has pulled out six cars. Last year, along Ponderosa Way, volunteers climbed down a drop into the canyon to pull out a couple of mattresses and called up to Maynard that they had their work cut out for them. “We pulled out a snowmobile,” Maynard said. “It was quite a chore to get it out with ropes.” Maynard said he’s stopped being surprised when he sees trash dumps large or small in the canyon but does remain mystified. “It’s like a daily thing to trash this place out,” Maynard said. “As beautiful as this canyon is, you’d think people would want to keep it clean so they’re not tripping on beer cans.” The ultimate dumping drop-off for almost 40 years has been the canyon of the North Fork of the American River below the 730-foot-high Foresthill Bridge. Eric Peach, a Protect American River Canyons board member, said that construction work since last winter on the bridge has increased security and resulted in a drop in the amount of junk falling from the deck of the span – the fourth highest in the United States. But other areas of the canyon continue to pile up the trash. “We pick up tons of garbage every time,” Peach said. “We see refrigerators, sofas, tires, mattresses – the last ‘catch of the day’ was a flat screen TV.” Peach said that the trash problem isn’t isolated to Auburn. “It seems to be a bad problem in Placer County,” he said. “Maybe there could be some amnesty days funded through extra fees collected at the point of sale that could be protected from raiding by the state legislators.” Union Pacific welcomes reports Union Pacific rights of way have been popular dumping grounds. The railway has two sections of track running through Auburn. Aaron Hunt, a spokesman for the railroad, said the company patrols the right-of-way and if Union Pacific or local police see it happening they can issue citations that could cost an illegal dumper $100 or more. “It’s something we have to consistently work against,” Hunt said. “One of the most important things we can do is collaborate with local stakeholders to give us an added set of eyes on the ground.” People with trash reports can call Lisa Stark, director of public affairs for Northern California, at (916) 789-5957 or e-mail llstark@up.com. “We have 32,000 miles of track in our system and we have to continue to chip away at the problem,” Hunt said. Auburn’s Sally Palmer Dawley recently found a sectional sofa and other garbage on a dirt road near her workplace in North Auburn. “It’s happened a number of times before,” Dawley said. “A couple of years ago, someone just dumped a couch in the middle of the road.” Dawley said that the $22 fee for a yard of garbage at North Auburn’s Auburn Transfer Station may be daunting to some. But there is also a simple solution. “It’s just a matter of saving your money and then taking what you need to over to the dump,” Dawley said. Acceptable recycling materials at the Shale Ridge Road Auburn Transfer Station Acceptable (no charge): Newspapers, cardboard, white paper, motor oil, batteries, aluminum, glass, plastic. Acceptable (with a processing fee): Latex paint, appliances, tires, scrap metal, wood and green waste. Source: Recology Editor's note: Because of technical difficulties, this story was uploaded to replace the same story posted earlier Thursday. 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