Cleanup underway of longtime dump site on Stemple Creek tributary

08/15/2019

Two years ago, Deputy Jason Swift was patrolling a secluded stretch of Chileno Valley Road where people often stop to hang out. No one was there at the time, so he got out to take a walk. “You see a lot more, you hear a lot more and you smell a lot more when you get out of your car,” he said. The stench of a decaying animal drew him onward, and as he continued to inspect the road, a discarded motorcycle down the steep drop to a tributary of Stemple Creek caught his eye. Looking deeper, tires, washers, dryers and then cars came into view, strewn out across hundreds of feet of streambank. After reporting the dead animal to the Humane Society, Dep. Swift researched how other jurisdictions deal with large amounts of trash, and he discovered CalRecycle’s Farm and Ranch Solid Waste Cleanup and Abatement Grant Program. Now, the Stemple Creek dumpsite is being rid of junk with the help of a $40,000 grant to the Marin Resource Conservation District. This week, a skid-steer loader and winches are removing two vehicles, numerous household appliances and pieces of furniture, and more than 100 tires from the stream. The grant will also pay for no-dumping signs and surveillance cameras so the landowner—the site is on Spicer Ranch—can monitor the area. “People come in the dead of the night and tip their refrigerators, or whatever it may be, into the creek,” said Nancy Scolari, the executive director of the Marin Resource Conservation District. “It’s been happening for a number of years.” The site is hard to spot from the road—there’s a 100-foot drop to the creek—and the trash has sat in the watershed for seemingly decades. “Dumping material off the side of the road, often into our local creeks, has terrible ecological consequences and seriously impacts Marin’s natural beauty for future generations,” said Rob Carson, the program administrator for the Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program. Once all of the material is brought up and disposed of, the site will then be stabilized and restored. Dep. Swift said he is thrilled that the garbage is finally being removed. “It was something I saw was an issue, and I wanted to remedy it,” he said. “You take ownership of your beat and areas. It’s more than going around writing tickets and responding to calls.”