Volunteers Cleanup Horse Heaven Hills Illegal Dumping Mess - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Volunteers Cleanup Horse Heaven Hills Illegal Dumping Mess

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Trash is piling up on private property in the Horse Heaven Hills area of Kennewick. But a group of volunteers is taking charge and cleaning it up.

Community members are upset the Horse Heaven Hills they often enjoy for recreation is losing it's beauty and looking a lot more like a junk yard these days.

Illegal dumping is a growing issue in the area and people are fed up so they're coming together to cleanup.

It's a big mess to cleanup, but somebody's got to do it.

Volunteers are sifting through the rubble of trash illegally dumped on private property in the Horse Heaven Hills.

"There's a number of people out here who say this just isn't right. This isn't right. This is our county. This is not somebody's private dump site," said Mike Robinson, volunteer cleanup coordinator.

It's becoming a common problem with construction materials and personal garbage littering the land. Nearly 20 tons of trash were removed Saturday.

"Everybody wants this stuff stopped as soon as we can because it's just getting out of control. They want to be part of it. So we're getting a lot of help from the municipalities and also from the public," Robinson said.

Benton County authorities are getting involved, prosecuting people for illegally dumping. And land owners are now putting up security cameras.

"You get license plates. You get the pickups coming in with the load on it. You see it leaving 20 minutes later with an empty pickup," Robinson said.

Three illegal dumpers were caught on camera in the last month.

The trash can lead to the suspect, turning up names, on things like bank statements and even arrest warrants.

The dumping is more than a mess. It's also a health hazard.

"If our environment is contaminated, if pollutants are getting in our ground water, if odors and things are getting in the air that we breath. It can affect our health," said Jim Coleman, Benton Franklin Health District.

Volunteers said the opening of Road 397 and increasing fees at the dump are the biggest contributors to the growing number of trashed properties.

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