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La Pine residents step up, clear out trailer loads of trash from abandoned campsite

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.

Author Profile Photo

Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.



        1. I have been cleaning up “bum camps”, “illegal trash dumps”, abandoned campsites, and dumped vehicles on USFS – BLM, State, rivers, and creeks since the early 1970s so I doubt your claim is valid but you go ahead and tell yourself what you need to hear to validate your “Holier than thou” attitude. No, I was not at that cleanup, I was over in “The Valley” Saturday prepping for cleaning up a disabled person’s property, I even spent most of today there. I will be going back several more times as well. Now that issue is cleared up and we have beat our chest in manly fashions in one-upmanship, I still would like to know if you expressed your displeasure with him claiming to be from Sunriver to his face, or are you just flipping #2 here to make noise?

        2. You say you were there fellah no you werent or your wouldn’t be running the lil mouth!! So step aside if you got nothing good to say, we just trying to clean the woods before fire season and CLEAN OUR HOME!! It’s fine KARENS like you have an opinion instead of getting out there and helping

    1. What is wrong with you? He’s cleaning up other people’s trash and you are whining like a child about his home being a few miles north of La Pine? You embarrass yourself.

    2. Hes doing a heck of a lot more than you. The guy is out actively working to make his community better and you criticize him for his Facebook location? Wow.

    3. He lives not far from Sunriver.
      And he works IN Sunriver.
      No big deal to make that claim on FB.
      What difference does it make to what he helped to do?

        1. Actually, that area, really isn’t IN LaPine either. It is in between Sunriver & LaPine.
          The address is specifically Bend. Our local MLS calls it Three Rivers South.
          So, if the resident does their commerce in Sunriver, they probably say they are from Sunriver. And vice versa. Who cares?? What is the big deal??

    4. I worked and lived in Sunriver for many years Karen and I still work in Sunriver and live in between Sunriver and lapine now! Wanna get some lunch since you got alot to say

  1. Good on these people for doing this although they shouldn’t have to. This mess is all down to a bunch of camptrailer utilizing nomadic travelers.

  2. “La Pine residents step up, clear out trailer loads of trash from abandoned campsite”
    Ironic how the community views unsightly trashed scenic areas dumped illegally in the community as a crime worth banding together and cleaning up, yet at the same time it seems completely oblivious to even more dangerous polluters like these gas companies who use their big bucks to fight climate change mitigation. One involves unsightly trash and low level pollution, while the other arguably far larger polluters like these big gas companies pollute our planet. It’s like worrying about kids stealing the candy aisle at the local mom and pops store while the bank across the street is being robbed. The general publics’ understand and concern about their environment is very myopic. We should be worrying about the polluters destroying our planet’s habitability before we worry about cleaning up the local swimming hole.

    1. While I agree we can all do better with our polluting but big climate change elites are just as bad as the oil and gas companies for sure. Take Greta Thunberg for instance, her and her parents have been paid millions of dollars to spread the climate crisis narrative that will profit these elites. In turn they become the new oil and gas (green energy) officials making trillions off of all of us for decades to come.

    2. How do you suppose everything you see around you got there? The computer you type on? It all came in a truck. Powered by has or diesel. The food you ate?

  3. Maybe the amount of illegal dumping would be less if the Deschutes county sheriff’s office had more than two deputies here lapine doesn’t have City funded police to patrol or call like bend, Redmond, or sisters, the sheriff’s office will tell you that 90 percent of the calls they get come from south county but their presence or lack of doesn’t coincide with that statement

  4. Id like to know how many complaints to the county went ignored. Its great that folks take the initiative to do this but the county as all governments do, failed the people once again.

  5. One way to keep the government from fleecing us all so we can recreate without their takeover of our forests is to pick up garbage when you see it. Whether you left it or not. If you don’t pick it up you’re just as bad as the person that left the garbage. It’s that simple folks. All you Bundy haters this is exactly the type of government takeovers they are fighting against. Our government will murder people that go against their craving for power. Waco, TX and The Malheur takeovers and many more come to mind.

  6. As usual everyone on here has their own agenda they just have to push when all that was needed was a simple……

    “Thank you Taco, for your efforts and those of the other volunteers. Your hard work to help clean up our community is very much appreciated.”

  7. Maybe people would be more tolerant of these bums if they removed the same amount of trash they brought in. Being homeless and poor is no excuse to leave garbage all over the place. I’m sure there are plenty of excuses.

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