MOUNT HOLLY, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – It’s not exactly what you want to see when you go to enjoy a relaxing day on the lake. People all over the region are complaining about an abundance of trash and litter piled up at area boat ramps.
“It’s become a real problem. It’s an eyesore,” said boater Gary Turner.
Photos show trash piled in dumpsters, on top of dumpsters, and on the ground.
“Littering is widespread across the state, but when you show up at the ramp and you’re paying your license fees to the Department of Natural Resources and you have to look at this, you’re almost at the point where you want to stop paying for a license and move to another state,” said Turner.
At the Riverbend Access Area in Mt. Holly, the problem has gotten so bad that the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission removed all the trash cans and dumpsters, in hopes that people would stop bringing their household and construction site trash to the boat ramp. NC Wildlife has a “pack it in, pack it out” policy, meaning they hope boaters and fisherman will take their trash with them, rather than leaving it at the site. Turner says it hasn’t worked, and NC Wildlife plans to replace the receptacles in a few weeks.
“Now we’re just having folks leaving trash bags and their litter next to their vehicles or next to the sign where the dumpster used to be,” said Turner.
Christopher Dawes with NC Wildlife says the department has spent extra funds adding more dumpsters and trash cans at certain sites. But he’s found that putting out more trash cans has just led to people bringing in more outside trash.
“What we found out is, whatever size container you have, they’re going to fill it out,” he said.
Crews come to maintain access areas twice per week, taking 3,000 pounds of trash to the landfill from the busiest sites each week. And that’s just the trash that gets put into trash cans or gets left on the ground, not including the waste that goes into dumpsters.
“It’s the unauthorized use and the illegal dumping where they’re using our site kind of like a county convenience site, that just overwhelms us,” said Dawes.
Dawes says NC Wildlife law enforcement officers write about 25 littering citations every weekend at their busiest access areas. He says giving out citations is difficult because an officer must witness a person dump their trash and then leave the area in order to write a ticket. Otherwise, he says people can claim they’ll pick up the trash before they leave.
The state is aware of the problem, but at the end of the day, they say the responsibility lies within those that use the access ramps as dumping grounds.
“As individuals, we need to respect the environment, and respect it for the next person trying to use it as well,” said Turner.