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Spring cleaning brings assorted trash to state land, including TVs, tires & toilets

The Rogue River State Game Area in northern Kent County has been targeted with illegal dumping. Discarded items include box springs, a toilet and a boat.

KENT CITY, Mich. — Spring cleaning is a seasonal tradition for many, but it occasionally leads to eyesores on state land.

The bounty of discarded items includes couches, televisions, mattresses and household trash. State officials even came upon an abandoned boat.

“Oh, you name it,’’ said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Lt. Gerald Thayer. “Anything and everything you can think of.’’

The Rogue River State Game Area in northern Kent County has been a favorite dumping spot of late. 

“We’ve noticed a little bit of an increase in our state game areas and state lands,’’ Thayer said.

Debris recently found by conservation officers include mattress springs, a boat, flat screen TVs and tires.

Sometimes, offenders even take target practice on the TVs and computer monitors they dump.

“Springtime is always a bad time, whether there’s a pandemic or not because people do their spring cleaning and decide they don’t want to pay to have their rubbish removed,’’ Thayer said. “Or they don’t want to take it to the dump.’’

Earlier this year, hundreds of discarded tires were found in the Allegan State Game Area. 

The DNR took to social media looking for help nabbing those responsible. Thayer said the response was overwhelming – and appreciated.

“For a couple of weeks, we were really busy just fielding calls and emails and text messages from the community,’’ Thayer said. 

The tires have since been removed, with the help of DeerPath Recyclers in Dowagiac. Three suspects face criminal charges.

Also showing up on state land is regular household trash; sometimes already bagged. A large pile was found near 20 Mile Road and Red Pine Drive NW in Kent County's Tyrone Township.

“Instead of curbing it and having a company pick up, they’ll put it in a trailer until it gets heaping and then just dump all their household refuse in our game area,’’ Thayer said.

In some instances, offenders don’t do a good job of covering their tracks. Mail and other items bearing names and addresses provide investigative leads. Even bar codes on discarded boxes can help.

“So, there’s all kinds of ways that we can track,’’ Thayer said. “We’ve tracked serial numbers off an old stove once before.’’

Offenders can face a civil infraction and fines. More serious offenses can result in misdemeanor charges punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

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