Our Voice: Let's solve our problem of people dumping their trash in Kennewick hills

February 15, 2013 

Some people are just slobs. Or incredibly selfish. Or both.

Others are selfless.

We appreciate the 50 or so volunteers who have been clearing trash from Kennewick's foothills. Here's a little known (or apparently often disregarded) fact: This is someone's private property.

We still are shaking our heads that some folks think it's OK to dump their trash on other people's land. If they don't want it piling up around their house, how is it OK to dump it on someone else's ground?

We also are stunned that the cleanup group has hauled away more than 10 tons of junk and is still only half done.

That's a lot of trash.

In work hours and disposal fees, this is a costly project.

We appreciate the people doing the work and the business partners helping dispose of the stuff.

Of the many annual traditions in the Mid-Columbia, this is one that shouldn't be needed. Something must be done to stop this from becoming a reoccurring event.

Once the area is reclaimed, what can be done to keep it clean?

How about some signs listing a hefty fine for the litterer and aggressive enforcement -- with part of the fine being awarded to whomever tips off the authorities?

Or there could be signs appealing to the decency of people reminding them that "This land is someone's home, please don't dump your junk here."

Some people may not know that it's wrong. We find that extremely hard to believe, but conceivably it might happen.

We suspect that more often, the problem is that people don't want to hassle with properly disposing of things or paying to do so.

So far the cleanup crew has removed hundreds of used tires -- along with other junk -- from the hills.

It's bad enough to abandon leftover construction debris, but dumping tires also is a violation of federal law.

Perhaps one solution is for the community to sponsor an occasional tire amnesty program that would allow people to turn in a certain number of tires without charge -- not unlike Benton County's hazardous waste disposal program.

If we make legal options cheaper and easier, more people will do the right thing.

Having to get rid of used tires is one of the byproducts of owning a vehicle. It's part of the cost of being mobile.

Our culture values the mobility that cars provide. We need an equal emphasis on the responsibilities that go with that privilege.

This problem isn't unique to the Kennewick foothills. It hasn't been too long since the Southridge area had the same problem. When a fire burned the brush off Bateman Island, it exposed several tons of trash.

Once a place starts to look trashy, it is easier for people to ease their conscience about adding to the pile. But it still is wrong. And illegal.

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