By Charlotte Huffman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New Jersey officials are cracking down on people who use state parks as their own dumping grounds.
The Department of Environmental Protection says the problem has become worse than ever before. Nearly all of the state’s 170 parks and recreational areas have been impacted by illegal dumping. New Jersey’s two largest parks, Brendan Byrne State Forest and Wharton State Forest which are both located in south Jersey have become hot spots.
Earlier this year, DEP launched a campaign to stop illegal dumping. “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” after 80 percent of New Jersey residents polled said they believe illegal dumpers are not likely to be caught in New Jersey.
“That’s a number we are looking to change and that means getting people involved as well as increasing our enforcement efforts,” said DEP spokesman, Bob Considine.
Investigations are on-going daily and so far 10 people have been charged including John Roberts III of Paulsboro.
CBS3 tracked down Roberts who told the I-Team, “I dispose of my trash with the garbage can out back … I told the officers I didn’t dump it.”
According to police reports, Roberts dumped household debris across three different locations in Brendan Byrne State Forest in Woodland Township. Roberts faces a fine of up to $157,000 and pleaded not guilty during a court appearance last week.
“A lot of people think they can just get away with this. We’re trying to say no, maybe you’re not going to get away with this,” said Considine.
Police arrested Dennis Jenkins of Franklin Township for illegally dumping in Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. Police say Jenkins dumped enough trash to fill two dumpsters and faces a fine of up to $350,000.
“I’ve been here for seven years and never seen anything like that,” said State Park Police Detective Timothy Kasony about Jenkins’ alleged dumping site.
Kasony says he has seen dumping pick up recently as more people clean out their homes during the spring and summer months.
“There really hasn’t been much surprising me. People dump just about everything you can think of,” said Kasony.
The CBS3 I-Team was there as Kasony combed through piles of debris at Brendan Byrne State Park’s newest dumping site.
Common items include piles of roof shingles, old TVs, tires and mattresses.
Kasony is one of several detectives working to link piles of trash to the person responsible.
“If you leave any room for us to be able to trace it back to you, you’re going to get caught,” he said.
In the case of Roberts, detectives found a paystub and a piece of mail which led them to a house in Trenton. The home had been foreclosed on and police say the owner, Wells Fargo bank needed it cleaned out and hired a contractor who then hired Roberts as a subcontractor.
If you see someone dumping you can report it to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection by calling the 24-hour hotline 1-877-927-6337. To find out more about the “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” initiative, visit: http://stopdumping.nj.gov/
— A listing of all municipal and county recycling coordinators is available on the Department’s website at www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/recycling/recycoor.htm.
–For more information on transporting your waste or recyclables directly to a permitted solid waste facility or recycling center, a listing of all permitted landfills, incinerators, transfer stations, and Class B, C & D recycling centers can be found on the Department’s Division of Solid & Hazardous Waste website at www.nj.gov/dep/dshw.
–For more information on State Park Police, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/njstateparkpolice/index.htm
–For more information on State Parks and Forests, visit http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/
–For more information on DEP Natural Lands Management, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/natural/index.html
–For more information on Solid Waste Compliance and Enforcement, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/sw.html