Pile-up of junk leaves residents frustrated - and ready to act
La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- After months of trash building up in an area of La Pine, frustrated residents got busy Sunday and worked to clean up a section of the Deschutes National Forest.
The organizer of the cleanup, Stephen Murtha, also known as 'Taco,' said the trash issue is getting out of hand.
"I’ve seen this camp here, and the sad thing is it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger, to the point where you couldn’t even cross the road," Murtha said.
Having to witness parts of their community slowly turning into a junkyard, some La Pine residents decided to put on some gloves and do something about it.
Murtha proposed and coordinated the cleanup over Facebook, and it stirred several responses of others fed up with the trash. The clean up started at 10 a.m.
"I live out here, and I run my dog out here all the time," Murtha said. "There’s families out here, there’s also vacation rentals out here."
Ten volunteers showed up in an effort to bring a sense of beauty back to the woods off Whittier Drive, near the La Pine State Park.
Volunteer Randy Silva has lived in La Pine for 22 years. He shared that his care for his community is why these efforts matter.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take the due diligence of us to try and stay on it, as volunteers and neighborhoods, and locals, to monitor it, keep it clean," Silva said. "Hopefully, Deschutes County will help us with that.”
Kyle Hammack is originally from Sisters, where he lived for about 32 years before moving to La Pine. With his volunteering efforts, he hopes to preserve the surrounding areas of his community.
“I mean, especially if it’s right here in our backyard, you know?" Hammack said. "It’s something that needs to be taken care of, and it doesn’t look like anybody else is going to do it, so might as well take it upon yourself."
Items the crew cleared out ranged from propane tanks and tents to children's clothing, sea foam cans and even abandoned vehicles, one of which was completely burned.
But that may have been the least of the shock.
"Yesterday, there was a gentleman and his lady that came out here and picked up all the needles that were out here," Murphy said. "Behind you is also (the remains of a trailer), what was used to cook a lot of meth.”
With trailers full of trash, the crew of volunteers hope to restore things to how they once were.
David Ardito is another volunteer that is relatively new to La Pine. He moved from California in 2015 and as a member of his new community, he said it’s important that he and everyone else does their part.
“This is a problematic thing that will keep happening," Ardito said. "With the way of the world now and the level of homelessness, you know, it’s just something that's going to continue, so it’s just something to continue to fight."
Murtha said the work is far from over.
He's making plans to clean up another campsite, near the La Pine Community Cemetery.
If you'd like to offer a helping hand, you can reach him on his Facebook account.