Kuna mayor Joe Stear and his wife spotted potential a vehicle with occupants potentially dumping trash in the Kuna desert July 2.

Courtesy Kuna mayor Joe Stear

KUNA — Mayor Joe Stear wants to remind the public that dumping trash, even brush, in the desert is illegal.

Stear and his wife were driving out in the Kuna desert area on July 2 when they noticed a vehicle with what looked like trash start to drive up around a hill, out of sight.

Believing the vehicle’s occupants were going to dump the trash in the desert, the Stears followed the vehicle and, when it stopped, spoke with the occupants, reminding them that dumping trash in the area is illegal.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office was also called, but no one was fined or charged because no trash had been dumped, according to Stear and the Ada County Sheriff’s Department.

Stear attributes part of the problem to the closure of Kuna’s dump, which was located on Ten Mile Road. He added the closest dump is in Meridian, at 2130 W. Franklin Road. Another landfill, Ada County Landfill, is at 10300 N. Seaman's Gulch Road in Boise.

Stear emphasizes that dumping brush out in the desert area is also illegal because it is a fire hazard. Dumped brush can contribute to longer-lasting fires, Stear said, and the longer the fire burns, the longer firefighters are in danger.

“Firefighters can’t leave until the fire is out,” he said. “We lost two (firefighters) around 1995. That’s two too many.”

Stear said he feels this is a growing problem but does not have numbers to support that. The numbers, according to Patrick Orr, Ada County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, do not show any major increase in such cases.

“It’s more of a consistent problem,” he wrote in an email. There were five reports of illegal dumping in Kuna in 2016. Halfway through 2017, Kuna Police Department received three reports of illegal dumping.

Placing debris on public property is an infraction punishable by a $300 fine and up to 10 days in jail. On BLM land, fines can be up to $1,000 and a penalty of up to one year in prison could be issued.

"We like to tell people it’s much easier and less costly to take such trash to the Ada County Landfill on Seamans Gulch Road than risk a ticket and everything that goes with it," Orr wrote.

If residents see someone dumping trash or discover piles of trash in the desert or anywhere else, they are encouraged to contact the Ada County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency dispatch at 377-6790.

Stear said if residents feel safe to do so, they can take down a license plate and description of the car or take a photo.

If sheriff’s deputies find illegally dumped trash, they will work to find whoever did it. If they find those responsible, deputies will seek them out and ask them to clean up their mess. Deputies then make a charging decision.

Alx George is the Kuna Melba News reporter. Contact her at 28-922-3008 or editor@kunamelba.com.

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