Santa Cruz County is among six jurisdictions selected to receive state funding to clean up and restore a total of 36 rural sites that have been dirtied with illegally dumped material.
CalRecycle is providing the grants through its Farm and Cleanup Account to clean up illegally disposed waste on farm and ranch property owned by innocent parties. Most of the money will be used to pay for the removal and proper disposal of nonhazardous solid waste, which is a potential health and safety hazard and can contaminate local water supplies.
Santa Cruz County is being awarded $24,830 to clean up a parcel near Watsonville that includes a 100-year-old apple orchard. Green Valley Creek and its creek bank are strewn with cars, appliances, and other trash. The property is now fenced off and occupied, making it less likely to be a target of future dumping, so the funds will be used to clean up the existing refuse.
"Illegal dumping can be a serious burden for isolated farm and ranch areas,” said CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen. “It degrades the land, lowering production potential, and once an area becomes an illegal dump site, it’s targeted by repeat offenders, so the problem grows until it’s solved. It can get prohibitively expensive for a private landowner.”
To be eligible for one of these grants, the municipality must determine that the property owner isn't responsible for the dumping. More information about the program is available here.