Illegal dumpers beware of camera

It's a beautiful, popular creek but Sheriff Bill Benedict wants to keep some visitors from showing up with garbage-loaded pickups.

Johnson Creek, nestled between Palo Alto and Happy Valley roads, attracks visitors year-round for recreation as well as illegal dumping.

Benedict's plan to deter dumping is a day and night vision camera installed outside the state Department of Natural Resources property.

"It's one of the really bad spots for illegal dumping," Benedict said to Clallam County commissioners at a Nov. 3 study session.

"The chain gang has done several cleanups in that area, and we've been able to track down a few culprits thanks to the locals up there, and they have gone up and cleaned up dump sites but those piles of garbage just keep appearing."

Benedict said the problem is getting so bad that DNR has considered gating the area.

"I hope this project is successful, because we want these types of areas to stay open and we don't want garbage piling up in our wilderness," Benedict said. "It's a modest startup cost and hopefully, in the future, if people stop dumping, DNR may get involved and participate in similar actions at other problem areas."

The camera setup, which will cost around $5,000, will give Benedict the ability to deter dumpers, prosecute those who continue to dump and keep the DNR land open to the public.

"I'd rather deter than prosecute," Benedict said. "We don't have more cameras like this in rural areas of the county. Depending on the success of this one,

we may or may not see more."

Benedict said the Johnson Creek camera will be up and running by the end of the winter or early next spring.

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