10-17-05 - Illegal dumping is a problem in almost every county as people look for a quiet spot and leave everything from bags of trash to old furniture. At Carpenters Bluff, the problem is so bad that it is getting the attention of residents who say they've had enough.
At first glance, Carpenters Bluff is everything you would expect from an historic country bridge. Besides the occasional glimpse of traffic, it's quiet, peaceful and beautiful.
A second glance reveals what lies beneath. Years of erosion reveal layer upon layer of trash including broken bottles and old tires. Residents like Karla Corbin never know what they are going to see beneath the bridge.
"You'll find dead animals all the time down here - dogs, cats, sometimes they're tied up in a bag and sometimes they're just thrown over," Corbin said.
Trash, gnats and flies are piled right up to the entrance of Carpenters Bluff, and it has been like this for years. Residents want to know what's being done about it.
Nearly four years ago, Bryan County enlisted the help of an environmental crimes investigator. A $5,000 a year grant pays a Calera Police Officer to go out and patrol areas looking for evidence that could track dumpers.
Over the years, the officer has only been to court a couple of times. It is rare that a dumper is actually caught. Some residents are picking up where others leave off, picking up the trash themselves.
"Why do I care? Because our kids play here," Corbin said. "We come down, we like to swim here, we're having to go farther up or down the river to get away from it."
Corbin lives just on the other side of the bridge. She and other neighbors are organizing a trash pick-up this Sunday at noon to try and clean up the mess.
If you see anyone dumping trash or littering, write down a tag number and call the sheriff's office or the commissioners court. They will contact the trash officer to start an investigation.
Authorities say they need your help to prosecute dumpers.