Route 915 Targeted For Beautification Project
Buchanan State Forest rangers Greg Eitner and Shawn Lynn undoubtedly have their work cut out for them. With so much waste and garbage routinely thrown out along local roadways, the duo are intent on reminding motorists, hunters and even hikers that scattering rubbish and depositing waste are violations punishable through Pennsylvania vehicle and crime codes.
The amount of waste the rangers as well as foresters encounter every day was recently made evident through a cleanup effort organized by local forester and beautification specialist Jodi Skipper. Held in conjunction with Earth Day, the garbage pickup along Route 915 began on April 22 and concluded on April 27.
Those assisting during the cleanup that kicked off at the intersection of Route 30 and 915 and wrapped up at the bottom of the mountainside in Wells Township were Keith Ewan, Steve Keiper, Shawn Lynn, Don Nester, Matt Scheetz, Rich Madden and Skipper.
The Earth Day event received a nod of approval from District Forester Jim Smith and was a firstever for the state forest employees, even though additional roadside and dumpsite cleanups are routinely scheduled.
The two-day cleanup effort netted a total of six pickup truck beds of garbage, according to Skipper, who typically makes it her own personal goal to single-handedly clean up Route 915 once yearly. Other roadways targeted by Skipper annually in Fulton and Bedford counties include Route 30, Route 326 and Beans Cove Road.
Ironically 65 to 70 percent of the trash collected was Diet Mountain Dew bottles, with a sprinkling of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Sheetz refuse thrown in, added Skipper. She further noted the popularity of Route 915 as a dumpsite for litter is probably due to its close proximity to Breezewood and being out of sight aside from passing motorists.
“The sad part is that because I do these cleanups so frequently, I’m amazed at how much trash can accumulate over a year or year and a half,” she added.
Trash removal is optimal prior to green-up or after the leaves have fallen. As a result, any local groups or individuals wishing to log community service hours through trash collection this fall or next spring are encouraged to contact Skipper at the McConnellsburg Bureau of Forestry office by calling 717- 485-3148.
Meanwhile, forester rangers Eitner and Lynn are planning on reducing the amount of litter scattered on roadways and state forestland by monitoring and heavily patrolling the escalating situation.
Scattering rubbish is a violation under the state crimes code and carries a fine of up to $300 plus costs for the first offense, imprisonment for up to 90 days or both, according to Eitner. Second and subsequent offenses are deemed misdemeanors and can result in fines of up to $1,000 plus court costs, imprisonment for not more than one year or both.
“Fines and prison time are higher if the violator is associated with a business and can include confiscation and forfeiture of the vehicle involved,” he said.
Eitner said depositing waste and other material on highways, property or waters from a moving vehicle is a vehicle code violation. Fines for this violation range from $300 to $900 plus costs. Furthermore, violators can be court ordered to pick up litter for eight to 80 hours.
The forest ranger concluded that magisterial district judges have been leaning toward the higher end of fine scales and as a result have been instrumental in getting the point across that scattering rubbish and littering are violations punishable by the law.