Eau Claire County forests get a special spring cleaning - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire County forests get a special spring cleaning

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Eau Claire County (WQOW) - Each year when the weather warms up, people across the country toss their trash as part of spring cleaning. On Saturday, volunteers joined members of an Eau Claire County Parks and Forest Committee to give land in the area a spring cleaning of its own.

Whether its pieces of an old glass bottle or a half full bottle of antifreeze, Eau Claire County forests have collected a variety of junk.

"A lot of people want to try and avoid the fees that are associated with some of these items. Because some of these are hazardous, or do have special fees attached to them," said Emily St. Aubin, a member of the Eau Claire County Parks and Forest Citizens Advisory Committee who helped organize the cleaning effort.

Much of the mess comes from people illegally dumping items, which is why about 75 people volunteered their Saturday for Eau Claire County's Forest Clean-Up Day. One object was found more often than others.

"Always tires. Tires are always a big problem because they are difficult for people to dispose of properly, and people want to avoid fees. Personally I saw eight to ten so I can only imagine what we've dealt with all together," St. Aubin said.

Illegally dumping materials from basketballs to car batteries comes with a big fine.

"Littering fines range from $200 for a single soda can tossed out, to $767 for tires, old furniture, and building materials," said Scott Thiede, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden.

But it's not always easy to catch the culprit.

"Eau Claire County has 50,000 plus acres of forest land, and its multi-use land. And there are people accessing the county forest land all year round from different locations," explained Eau Claire County Park Ranger Nate Beaver.

In the hopes of not having to repeat the effort every spring, signs were put up with a phone number to report illegal dumping.

"It will hopefully deter people from dumping garbage in the county forest and disposing of it properly by contacting the county parks and forest department. Nobody wants to be walking down hiking trails and coming up on illegal dump sites," Beaver said.

Advanced Disposal provided dumpster bins and helped sort the items that weren't supposed to be there. A group of UW-Eau Claire students helped map things out ahead of time.

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