What others say: Trashing the Valley has become all too common

  • Tuesday, February 23, 2016 5:21pm
  • Opinion

Some careless Mat-Su residents seem to have no problem trashing the Valley.

At least two vehicles have become stuck in the ice this winter at the Palmer Hay Flats, endangering the birds, fish and other wildlife that call the 28,000-acre state game refuge home. Elsewhere on the refuge, piles of garbage have been showing up, including large trash dumps at the end of Rabbit Slough Road. These trash dumps are similar to those that can be found in other secluded areas in the Valley, including numerous spots along the Matanuska and Knik rivers.

These shameless and brazen acts might seem like petty crime when compared to the other law enforcement problems currently facing our community, but they should not be ignored. When people choose to dump trash in the woods or drive vehicles over sensitive habitat, their victims include not just the environment but anyone who values a clean, healthy place to live — and that’s just about everyone.

Finding a place to dump unwanted items isn’t hard, nor is it particularly expensive. The borough landfill in Palmer is open 7 days a week (except holidays), and rates for household garbage start at just $2 per bag. The borough charges an additional fee for hazardous waste, but those fees are typically minimal and pale in comparison to the cost to the environment of dumping illegally.

What this issue boils down to is respect. People who respect their community don’t drive pick-up trucks across wetlands, and people who respect their friends and neighbors don’t toss old mattresses at the end of dirt roads.

The Mat-Su Valley is a jewel of Alaska, known for its scenic wild rivers, soaring mountain peaks and clear, cold lakes. But if people continue to treat the Valley as one big dumping ground, that reputation will continue to be eroded.

The best way to change this type of disrespectful behavior is through peer pressure. If you see or hear of someone dumping illegally or driving where they shouldn’t, please speak up. While you may not want to call the police on a friend or family member, a discouraging word can often go a long way toward changing someone’s wayward behavior. And for every person who decides not to trash the environment, we all benefit in the form of cleaner water and improved outdoor experiences.

We want the Mat-Su of the future to be a place that’s teeming with diverse plants and abundant wild animals — not scarred by rutted wheel tracks and desecrated by heaping piles of Valley trash.

— Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman,

Feb. 19

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