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Ramapo Daily Voice serves Airmont, Chestnut Ridge, Hillburn, Hillcrest, Kaser, Monsey, Montebello, Mount Ivy, New Hempstead, New Square, Pomona, Sloatsburg, Spring Valley, Suffern, Tallman, Viola & Wesley Hills

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State DEP cracking down on illegal dumping in NJ parks, wildlife areas

Photo Credit: Courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Photo Credit: Courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Motion-sensor cameras are being installed in select state parks and wildlife management areas in New Jersey as part of a state DEP is cracking down on illegal dumping in those areas.

Authorities this week also warned that they’ll aggressively pursue civil and criminal complaints against violators — and seek much stiffer penalties for major offenders — while also installing barricades and added lighting in the most vulnerable areas of state parks and natural lands.

“Too often, we see our most pristine properties and favorite getaways fall victim to illegal dumpers, who have no regard for the environment, wildlife or people who enjoy the outdoors,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, in announcing a one-year pilot program called “Don’t Waste Our Open Space.”

“The goal of this crackdown is to let violators know their actions will not be tolerated and that there will be consequences for what they do,” Martin said during a series of events Thursday on state-owned land. “At the same time, the success of this initiative also will be determined by raising public awareness on this issue and to encourage our residents to get involved in this effort.”

The program’s progress is tracked on a new site: www.stopdumping.nj.gov , where officials said they’ll also post the names of those arrested as part of the campaign and the charges against them.

The initiative pulls together several Department of Environmental Protection agencies, including Parks, Fish & Wildlife, Compliance & Enforcement, Solid Waste, Water Resources, State Park Police, State Conservation Police, State Forestry Services and the Natural Lands Trust.

Also involved are State Police and the Attorney General’s Office.

Martin said state authorities are hoping municipalities, county park systems and local police join in.

Illegal dumpers have trashed 813,000 acres of state-preserved open space, including state parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, and natural lands and preserves, state authorities said.

They’re not talking only about common littering. It also includes construction debris, old TVs and computers, as well as car parts and tires– even entire vehicles.

Penalties for illegal dumping in state parks and in fish and wildlife areas will include criminal fines of up to $5,000 per violation and civil penalties of up to $1,500 per violation, they said.

“Debris that is left behind by illegal dumpers is not only unsightly,” State Park Director Mark Texel said. “[I]t pollutes these properties we cherish. It is potentially harmful to public health, wildlife and ecosystems. It also wastes the previous clean-up efforts of volunteers and puts the costs of clean-ups on the taxpayer.

“We hope this program will result in a decrease of illegal dumping on state lands,” Texel said.

PHOTOS: Courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

MORE INFO on State Parks and Forests: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/

MORE INFO on State Park Police: http://www.nj.gov/dep/njstateparkpolice/index.htm

MORE INFO on Solid Waste Compliance and Enforcement: http://www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/sw.html

MORE INFO on DEP Natural Lands Management: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/natural/index.html

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