(Wasilla) — A Wasilla subcontractor has discovered that laws protecting Alaska wildlife refuges from illegal dumping are taken seriously and that the state will pursue and prosecute those who dump trash in or vandalize infrastructure on public lands.
Ian Beall, 20, pleaded guilty in Anchorage district court on December 22, 2014, to dumping a large amount of trash – including discarded roofing materials – in the recently cleaned-up Goose Bay State Game Refuge southwest of Wasilla. He was sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine and serve 20 hours of community service picking up trash in Goose Bay and the nearby Palmer Hay Flats state game refuges.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recently spent more than $100,000 cleaning up the Goose Bay refuge and fixing its roads, parking areas and trails. Since 2010, more than 100 tons of refuse have been removed including junk cars, hazardous materials and discarded household appliances.
Beall was tracked down and charged by Alaska Wildlife Troopers in early November through evidence gathered and provided by refuge staff.
“The Wildlife Troopers enthusiastically jumped right on this,” said Joe Meehan, Fish and Game’s Lands and Refuge Program coordinator. He also praised refuge staff for conducting surveillance and assisting in the investigation.
Located at the end of Knik-Goose Bay Road southwest of Wasilla, Goose Bay is bordered to the south by Knik Arm and to the north and west by Point MacKenzie Road. Previously the location of a Nike Missile site that was eventually abandoned, the refuge’s road entrance received decades of abuse including vehicle burning, dumping, unregulated target shooting, and vandalism. In recent years, the entrance has been cleaned up by the department and its partners and is now a popular destination for hunters, birders and other outdoor recreationists.
“With help from the Alaska National Guard and volunteers, we’ve removed 107 tons of trash, including about 75 vehicles, 40 car batteries and other hazardous materials from Goose Bay,” said Meehan. In addition to improving road access and parking, recent cleanup efforts have aimed to mitigate lead deposits that remain in the refuge from years of target shooting.
Meehan was disappointed, but not surprised when the heaps of roofing materials and, more recently, a discarded dryer and washing machine were found dumped in the refuge parking area.
“It takes months and years to change the ‘culture of use’ of an area,” said Meehan, “but we’ll get there.”
Meanwhile, costs associated with cleaning up illegally dumped trash and repairing vandalism take away from funds available for improvements that would otherwise benefit refuge users.
Discarded construction materials and other refuse statewide should be deposited at local or borough landfills or refuse transfer sites. Wasilla and Palmer area residents can dispose of solid waste at Central Landfill (861-7600 or https://www.matsugov.us/publicworks/solid-waste) located off the Palmer-Wasilla Highway at 1201 N. 49th State Street.