Pile of debris in Francis Marion Forest from Sept. (Source: Quenton Wright)
Pile of dirt illegally dumped in forest (Source: Live 5)
Household items found in forest (Source: Live 5)
Punishment for littering in forest (Source: Live 5)
BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) -
The Francis Marion National Forest is being used as an illegal dumping ground.
Citizens and forestry law enforcement said Wednesday it’s becoming a serious problem.
“It's very discouraging,” said Quenton Wright, of Summerville. “It makes me sad to see that somebody just blatantly comes out here and dumps like this in the forest."
Wright is just one of many people who are concerned about what is happening in the Francis Marion National Forest.
In September he took a photo of a pile of debris at one of the turnoffs on Halfway Creek Road. You can see pieces of wood, shingles and tarps in a pile off the side of the road.
"It looked like someone had demolished an out building or some type of house," Wright said.
Fast forward to that same spot Wednesday. Mounds of dirt are now in that turnoff and several in others along the road throughout the forest.
"Somebody is either too lazy to go to the landfill or do the proper paperwork, pay the fine or fee to dump their materials so they came here dumping in the national forest," Wright said.
"You would actually have to have a big truck [for this pile],” said Richard Areizaga, who drives through the forest often. “So this is a company, this isn't just Joe Blow, this is an actual big company, who says 'hey I don't want this, so I'm going to dump it here’."
In other turnoffs along the road, household items can be found.
There was a wooden cabinet in one spot, along with garbage bags, and shrimp baiting poles. The poles still had a license number one them.
Any little bit of information on the items left behind could lead officials in the right direction to finding the culprit.
"I went through trash,” Wright said about the pile found in September. “I found receipts, I found thumb drives, I found all kinds of information."
Robert McCullough, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said the department is actively investigating the dumping sites.
The U.S. Forestry Service is also involved.
"You have a national forest out here you need to make sure you keep it clean,” Areizaga said. “They have this for parks and recreation, it's not a personal dumping ground."
Mattresses, washing and drying machines and boats have been some of the other items found in the forest.
According to South Carolina law, if you're caught littering in the forest you could face a fine up to $1,000. You may even have to do jail time, depending on the severity of the situation.
Anyone who catches people in the act are urged to contact the proper authorities.