COLUMBIA, Mo. – It doesn’t pay to litter. That is the lesson a Boone County resident learned in February after receiving the maximum littering fine of $1,000 plus court costs for dumping trash at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Hartsburg Access Conservation Area (CA).
In January, MDC Fisheries Biologist Brian McKeage was contacted about a large amount of trash someone had left at the Hartsburg Access CA. Upon inspection, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“There was enough trash left in the area to fill a dumpster,” McKeage said. “We saw old doors, a mattress and parts of a desk among other things. It was really frustrating, because this is a popular place for area boaters to access the Missouri River.”
It took McKeage and another MDC employee approximately two hours to get all the wet, muddy trash that was strewn everywhere cleaned up and hauled away. During the clean-up effort, a name and address was spotted on some items. McKeage contacted MDC Boone County Conservation Agents Adam Doerhoff and Sean Ernst with pictures and the items from the trash to see if anything could be done to catch the offender.
“The discovery of a name and address was a lucky break,” Doerhoff said. “With that information, we were able to locate that residence and make contact with the appropriate people. One resident admitted to dumping all the items on the Hartsburg Access CA”.
The state of Missouri recognizes all littering violations as Class-A misdemeanors; however, MDC breaks this into Class-I and Class-II violations based on the amount of litter. For example, the littering of a soda can would be a Class-I violation. Gross violations, such as the intentional dumping of multiple and/or large items, would be a Class-II violation. While any littering violation can incur fines up to $1000, Class-II violations may also result in the revocation of hunting and fishing privileges for one year. The Hartsburg Access CA littering incident is a Class-II violation.
Doerhoff encourages anyone who witnesses littering or illegal dumping to report it to their local conservation agent.
“Littering isn’t just ugly, it hurts wildlife, costs Missourians millions of tax dollars each year, and it’s illegal,” Doerhoff said. “I hope all Missourians will think twice before they decide to litter. It’s just not worth it.”
Missourian’s can help fight litter through the Show-Me-state’s annual No MOre Trash! Bash in April. The Trash Bash is an annual event sponsored by MDC and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) as part of their ongoing No MOre Trash! statewide anti-litter campaign. The agencies encourage people to clean up litter all across Missouri from roadsides, parks, neighborhoods, rivers, streams and other places. For more information, visit www.nomoretrash.org.