Three New Jersey cities have partnered with the state’s “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” program to combat unlawful dumping in their own communities, New Jersey Department of Environment Protection (NJDEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
In addition to partnerships with Trenton, Camden and Secaucus, NJDEP’s “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” initiative has yielded another 34 arrests for illegal dumping in state parks and wildlife management areas this year, totaling 62 enforcement actions since the program was launched in April, 2014.
A new mobile application has also been launched as part of the program, allowing visitors of state recreational areas to report dumping sites and the contents of the trash found at these locations so DEP can address the debris and launch an investigation.
“We hope getting more people to become aware of illegal dumping and to take action will help act as a deterrent for those who think they get away with a crime that directly impacts the environment, wildlife and people who enjoy the outdoors,” Commissioner Martin said. “We want illegal dumpers to know that there will be consequences for their actions.”
The “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” program is a coordinated effort involving a host of DEP programs, including Parks, Fish & Wildlife, Solid Waste, Water Resources, State Forestry Services and the Natural Lands Trust. Investigations of illegal dump sites on state properties, including a few involving motion-sensor camera discoveries, are conducted by State Park Police, Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Conservation Officers and DEP’s Compliance & Enforcement.
All activities are posted on www.stopdumping.nj.gov, which serves as a hub for the program, including an interactive map to find dumping sites and perpetrators.
DEP has also introduced the “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” program to municipalities and several local and county law enforcement entities in an effort to bring more attention to the issue of illegal dumping. Earlier this year, the cities of Camden, Trenton and Secaucus launched their own illegal dumping initiatives, based on the methods and successes of the state program. With direction and assistance from DEP’s program, the municipalities are already seeing results.
“A partnership with the DEP to combat illegal dumping in Trenton is a win-win relationship,” Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson added. “Not only does it strengthen our ability to keep our city clean, it exemplifies my administration’s commitment to transforming our city by executing a governance strategy formed by collaboration, communication, innovation and transparency.”
A new mobile application, which can be accessed on smart phones at https://njwebmap.state.nj.us/DEPStopDumping allows park visitors who come across illegal dump sites to anonymously report its location, the size and type of the dump, as well as a picture of the debris. Once the site is reported, DEP investigators will work to find the responsible party.
For additional instructions on how to use the mobile application, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/stopdumping/instructions.htm
The “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” program incorporates strict enforcement of illegal dumping practices, while raising awareness of the problem through outreach and education. Strategically deployed motion-sensor cameras have been set up in select state parks and wildlife management areas to help nab violators. Information on arrests and charges filed in connection with illegal dumping will be posted on www.stopdumping.nj.gov.
Illegal dumping, which includes everything from unlawful disposal of construction debris and old TVs and computers to the dumping of car parts and tires– and even entire vehicles — has been a growing problem in the state’s vast natural holdings in all 21 counties in recent years.
Nearly all of the state’s more than 170 publicly owned tracts, including state parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, marinas, and natural lands and preserves, have been impacted by illegal dumping. These lands account for 813,000 acres of state-preserved open space.