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La Pine resident says trash, pollution a growing issue on BLM lands

Says they need to be more heavily regulated; B:M responds

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ ) -- Many Central Oregonians enjoy walking, hiking and horseback riding on BLM-managed lands, but they have to endure what some say are growing amounts of trash and debris in the great outdoors.

La Pine resident Phillip Pascale said Thursday he and his wife spend a lot of time outdoors, and he feels the lack of maintenance is getting out of control.

"You'll start to see illegal dumping, you'll start to see signs that say no trespassing," Pascale said. "You'll start to see trees cut down and different forestry roads cut down where they shouldn't be. And lastly, you'll see some campsite that are beginning to leech into the roadways and the community ways."

Pascale said he enjoys recreating at La Pine State Park and in the surrounding areas quite often, but when he heads out, he finds things like cardboard, trash, water bottles and even human waste.

He said he was once threatened by someone at one of the illegal campsites, and there are added health concerns now with COVID- 19. On the other hand, he said, many people go out of their way to help keep the area clean.

BLM has a 14-day camping limit for both public lands and dispersed lands, and after the limit is reached, you must relocate at least 30 miles from the area.

Lisa Clark, public information officer with Prineville BLM, said they've noticed two situations.

"You sometimes get people who are homeless who need to live on public lands. As they live there, they will accumulate a certain amount of trash," Clark said. "We try to make contact with them, help them get the services they need and moved into a better situation, and have them clean up the area when they leave."

"The other thing we get is a lot of people who just don't want to take the time to go to the dump, or pay the $11 it takes to drop their material off at the landfill," she added.

Clark said it's difficult to enforce regulations over a wide area as much as the public would like, as there are about 1.65 million acres of land in the BLM's Prineville district. Each year, she said, they can clean up an average of 50,000 to 100,000 pounds of trash.

Pascale said he had to buy a $20,000 septic system for his home, just because of the increased amount of pollution in the water. He said he understands the homeless community has a right to the land as well, but there needs to be some level of mitigation and cooperation.

" If you're not cleaning up after yourselves, if you're not doing all of these things, you can't live here," Pascale said. "You can't do that illegal action. If you would also like to reside in the forest, as your choice, there are better places for that."

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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