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Illegal dumping plagues roads

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LITTER: A bag of clothes that’s been cut open covers theforest floor as couches dumped deeper in the woods are shown peering behind the tree line.
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COLLECT: Mark Page grabs a couch cushion on Thursday as part of his effort to clean up the forest along Pipe Creek near the intersection of Miami County Road 400 West and C.R. 500 South.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@chronicle-tribune.com

Rays of light pierced the canopy of trees surrounding Pipe Creek as a Great Blue Heron plucked its prey from the rippling waters of the creekbed.

When a truck hauling a trailer clambered over the bridge on Miami County Road (C.R.) 400 West near the intersection of C.R. 500 South, the spooked heron took flight.

Slightly downstream, the warm, early rays of sunlight highlighted a less pleasant sight – bottles, cans and trash scattered along the bank. A quick glance into the shaded forestline uncovered an even darker reality.

Loads of illegally dumped items lined the pullout where Mark Page parked his truck and trailer. As he exited the vehicle, he wasn’t there to create more of a mess, he was there to clean it up and create a lasting change.

“It’s definitely a few households worth of stuff down here,” he said. “If you count, there are at least 10 bedrooms sitting down here at the creek.”

The “no dumping” sign wasn’t of much use. Piles of clothing covered the forest floor behind a mound of mattresses, ripped couches and armchairs.

One morning, Page collected 160 gallons of trash in a quarter-mile stretch of C.R. 400 West, but he said the dumping hotspot fills up regularly, especially over the past year since the county-wide large item pickup stopped.

“Whoever was doing it previously, the county doesn’t have them working for them anymore,” he said.

“It’s a really pretty area, and I would hate to see it look like this for a long time,” he added as he began to talk about his solution.

Growing tired of waiting for action, Page took it upon himself to create and promote a cleanup day this Saturday, Oct. 5, at 8 a.m., where he plans to pay hundreds of dollars to legally dump the rubbage in a nearby landfill.

Anyone interested in joining him can meet at the bridge over Pipe Creek on C.R. 400 West, where he said volunteers will be working for at least a few hours clearing large items before spending time picking up smaller trash.

He would like to see a county-wide program reinstated, since he thinks it will help the issue. He also said managers of apartment complexes need to talk with tenants moving in and out of their properties about dumping, or he said they need to provide dumpsters to help the growing issue.

Page also hopes to expand the cleaning area to other parts of the county, since he heard dumping is becoming a widespread issue.

“I’m just looking to raise awareness about it and get people out here to help clean it up,” he said. “With everyone knowing, hopefully we can get it to slow down.”

Trash bags, gloves and water will be provided by Page, he says. All he needs is help.

“We’ll do what we can,” he said.