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This semester I'm an intern at the Pasco County Environmental Lands Divison. It's a small office that uses the extra 1% sales tax funds to buy land and restore it to its natural state to make it into a nature preserve that is open to the public. It's been around for six years, and they have seven preserves so far.

One thing that really sticks out to me is the amount of people that use nature preserves for illegal dumping. I don't know how much trash pickup usually costs, but it can't be that much that you are willing to drive your truck past the "conservation area, no dumping" signs and dump kitchen trash, dirty diapers, tires, couches, barbed wire, bicycles, cleaning chemicals, and anything else you might need to get rid of right into a pristine area. Often times people cut fences in order to do this. This week on a site visit our land manager found hunting equipment in the middle of a clearing, specifically deer stands and a few large feeders. Yes, in the middle of a wildlife preserve. The equipment is being confiscated this week with the help of the sheriff in case the owner is around.

There are annual events in which volunteers come out to clean up one of the preserves, but there just aren't enough people to clean all of them. And what about the land that's not owned by the county? I'm sure people dump in any wooded area they can find. There are plenty of legal places where people can drop off their trash. What else can we do to fix this?

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That's redneck area. Doesn't surprise me.

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