Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Mattress dump hits a nerve


June 15, 2017

More than a dozen mattresses dumped at 25 Mile Haines Highway last month sparked conversation on social media about illegal dumping, a topic the Haines Borough Solid Waste Working Group has pegged as a major problem.

Nelle Jurgeleit-Greene shared a post from another Haines resident with a photo of the mess on a Haines Facebook page last month. Comments on the original post said the Captain’s Choice Motel hired a person to dispose of old beds, but management was unaware that the person would dump them illegally. The original post was removed.

Motel owner Greg Richmond said this week the motel contracted with someone to get rid of mattresses, but denied his business was involved in the incident. He also disputed that the mattresses were at 25 Mile. Jurgeleit-Greene said she heard the mattresses were removed after news spread on Facebook.

The Haines Borough Solid Waste Working Group listed illegal dumping as a problem in the borough at its most recent meeting, citing cost and inconvenience as possible causes.

Borough public works director Brad Ryan has been vocal about the issue at group meetings, citing experience organizing cleanups while working for the Takshanuk Watershed Council.

“We’d pick up thousands of pounds of stuff every year,” Ryan said. At several spots along the Haines Highway, people have dumped garbage, including mattresses, desks, appliances and piles of dirty diapers, he said.

Group member Melissa Aronson said the dumping sites are an attractant for more garbage, and can be hazardous to wildlife.

“Some people just aren’t responsible,” Aronson said. “I think we need to figure out ways to help people be responsible. Once it’s allowed to start, it gets worse and worse. I think that there are ordinances on the books about littering, but they need to be stronger and need to be enforced.”

A section of Haines Borough Code prohibits littering in the municipality and defines litter as “garbage, refuse, rubbish and all other waste material which, if thrown or deposited as prohibited in this chapter, tend to create a danger or nuisance to public health, safety, and welfare.”

“If the borough gets a complaint, we do follow through on it,” said borough administrative assistant Donna Lambert. She said borough staff will investigate reports of garbage and send letters to private landowners to clean up trash, citing code. The next step would be to get the police involved, she said.

Aronson said illegal dumping was the catalyst that started the solid waste working group earlier this year.

“There are volunteer groups that go out and pick this stuff up, but we shouldn’t have to rely on other people to clean up our own mess,” Aronson said.


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