By Thomas Garcia, PNT Staff Reporter
Taxpayer dollars are being spent to clean up illegal dumping along Roosevelt County roads.
When one drives down a county road it is not uncommon to see some trash in the ditch. Assorted items such as aluminum cans, bottles and sometimes household items such as carpet and broken furniture. But county residents might be surprised to learn what else people have been dumping along county roads.
The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s department has been receiving reports of cattle carcasses dumped illegally along county roads.
Five dairy heifer calf carcasses were dumped along Roosevelt Road 3 within the past week, said Roosevelt County Sheriff, Darren Hooker.
In the past three weeks, there have been approximately 36 carcasses, that have been dumped along a three-mile stretch of county road, said Charlene Hardin, Roosevelt County manager.
A week ago there was one individual that was caught while dumping 22 carcasses along a county road. The individual collected the carcasses and properly disposed of them, Hooker said.
“The carcasses have been reported by landowners traveling down the roads,” Hooker said. “They are not on the property of the landowners but are along roads that they must travel.”
One possible reason for the illegal disposal is to avoid the cost of properly disposing of the carcass. There are legal ways of disposing of the animals, but dumping them on the side of the road is not one of them, says the sheriff. The cleanup of the illegally dumped carcass becomes a cost that is borne by the county, Hooker said.
“Citizens’ tax dollars could be spent on a lot better things then the disposal of dead livestock,” Hardin said. “Instead of using the money to fix roads we are having to clean up the messes left on the side of the roads.”
It was because of this added expense that the Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a resolution to apply for a $10,000 grant from the New Mexico Environment Department during Tuesday’s regular commission meeting.
The county became aware of the grant a week ago. It can be used to help pay for the county’s expenses for cleanup of illegal dumping, Hardin said.
“In order to apply for the grant there must be a resolution passed by the commissioners and the county must match the grant by 25 percent,” Hardin said.
The illegal dumping of trash and dead calves has become a major problem in Roosevelt County, said John Bohm, Roosevelt County road manager.
The county road crews have been collecting the dead livestock and transporting them to the Clovis landfill. A closer solution such as composting is being sought by the commissioners.
“There needs to be a closer alternative to the landfill to reduce the cost to the county,” said Commissioner Gene Creighton. “Having a local place to dispose of the carcasses could possibly discourage and stop future illegal dumping.”
“When the county disposes of the carcasses at the Clovis landfill a cost of $26 dollars a ton has to be paid by the county,” Hardin said.
To help stop the illegal dumping the county may end up offering a reward to catch those responsible, Hooker said.
In other business commissioners:
• Submitted a letter to request Cooperation Agency Status regarding the Mexican Wolf.
“This letter is the first step needed for the commissioners and the county to have a voice against the release of the gray wolf around Roosevelt County,” said Commissioner Dennis Lopez.
• Annual certification of county maintained mileage to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. The total for Roosevelt County roads was 1,274 miles.