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No illegal dumping needed with centers

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No illegal dumping needed with centers

While the New Mexico State Land Commissioner takes steps to clean caliche pits on State Trust Lands in Lea County, Lorenzo Velasquez, the county’s director of Environmental Services, reminds residents there’s no reason for illegal dumping.

His department manages both of the county’s facilities — the Lea County Landfill east of Eunice and the North Hobbs Convenience Center — accepting trash from any county residents.

According to his report to the county commission early last year, a total of 94,488 tons of material were collected at the landfill along with 8,916 tons at the North Hobbs Convenience Center in 2016. That includes solid waste, tires, oil, tree limbs and industrial wastes. Data for 2017 are yet to be reported.

Meanwhile, State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn reported, in an effort to mitigate trespass and illegal dumping concerns on State Trust Lands, he is targeting caliche pits in Lea County that are used as makeshift landfills.

Caliche is a calcium carbonate or decomposed limestone soil used as road pavement and in well pads for drilling activity. Once caliche is extracted, a pit remains that attracts trespassers who dump trash and debris, hazardous materials, appliances, rotting upholstery and even decaying animal carcasses, all of which create a health hazard and devalue State Trust Lands.

Velasquez told the News-Sun Thursday his agency has been working closely with Dunn and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees federal properties.

“Areas throughout Lea County where there are caliche pits that are not being observed or manned, not being taken care of, when we see (dumped debris) out in the field, we let the land office know or whoever is in charge of the property,” he said.

The State Land Office and project partners removed trash, debris and hazardous materials from two pits totaling almost 13 acres in December. Both sites were contoured, sloped and reseeded with native grasses and flowering plants to stabilize soils, increase ground cover and provide favorable forage for livestock and wildlife.

“Remediating caliche pits reduces the health and safety risk to nearby communities and restores the land to a more usable state,” said Dunn. “Revenues earned on these particular sites support public schools, so it is vital that these lands are reclaimed so that they may generate revenue for New Mexico schoolchildren.”

Velasquez said members of the general public often call him when they notice a place where illegal dumping has taken place.

“Sometimes even ranch hands will call us and say we have problem out here. We go out there and check it out,” he said. “If we find any identification, we contact the people that information was on in the trash and we get it cleaned up.”

Asked whether it becomes necessary to take individuals to court, Velasquez said, “Some we do and some they clean up. They’d rather clean it up than go to court, which works better for everybody.”

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