Some of the best stories that run in the newspaper are stories of local volunteers teaming up and doing something good that helps the community. 

Whether it is the local Lioness Club collecting blood to help save lives, the Rotary Club donating funding to get a project built on public property, or private individuals taking time to better the lives of the community, the stories show that people in the community care about one another. These so-called “good news” stories are something people like to read, and something we like to report on.

In this week’s paper there is a great story by one of our reporters, Patricia Alvord, on the efforts of area volunteers teaming with the U.S. Forest Service to clean national forest property located in Oscoda Township. The cleanup effort, which took place last week, resulted in three dumpsters – including two 20-yard capacity dumpsters – getting filled with trash.

The trash came from sites along Rea Road and was collected by around 40 area volunteers and included everything from kitchen appliances, mattresses (18 in total) and garbage bags of dirty baby diapers. The good news is volunteers are willing to take time out of their day to make the forest a better place. The bad news is that we have scummy people in the community who feel our national forests are their personal garbage dump.

What is more is this isn’t the accumulation of years of trash dumping; this is only six months of dumping in the area. That is because organizer Rose Fulton, who did a similar cleanup in April with the Forest Service and other volunteers, managed to fill two 20-yard dumpsters (this time collected 20 mattresses among the discarded “goodies”) during an April cleanup.

There are times when you have to read something twice, and then read it again, and then organize your thoughts and actually verify that what you just read was true. But yes, you’ve read this correctly; in the course of six months some creeps have dumped around 50 cubic yards of trash into a small section of national forest property and among that waste was nearly 40 used mattresses.

Just how big is a cubic yard anyway? Well go into your utility room and take a look at your washing machine, if you have one. That is about the size of a cubic yard (3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet). Now picture 50 junk washing machines – rusting, dented, covered in dirt and smelling of old trash and baby diapers – resting helter skelter in pristine national forest land. Kind of makes you sick, doesn’t it? It makes me sick for a lot of reasons.

One of the reasons it makes me sick is because it’s just the wrong thing to do. Dumping your garbage into the forest, whether it is a hamburger wrapper, small kitchen appliance or mattress that has seen better days, is just wrong and people know it’s wrong. From a young age children are taught in school that it is wrong to throw old papers or garbage on the floor. I believe people doing this know it is wrong and just do not care that they are doing this type of thing. 

Another thing that makes me sick is that volunteers have to spend their time doing this type of volunteer work. Don’t get me wrong, the volunteers’ efforts are much appreciated, but this isn’t like Adopt-A-Highway, where trash from thousands of driver accumulates along the roadside. This is a select few individuals who have decided to dump their items in the woods.

So knowing we have people doing stuff like this in our forests, it is unfortunately going to take everyone to stop illegal dumping. If you see something that looks fishy report it. See a truck full of garbage bags enter the woods, and then leave empty? Get the license plate. See something disposed of in the woods, a couch or something, that you recognize, let the police know where it came from. In the past clues let behind at the scenes, whether it is a receipt or old bill, have helped nail down who is doing this shameful act.

Unfortunately it’s going to take everyone to stop illegal dumping.