The illegal dump site on national forest land off Panhandle Road in Front Royal that was reported in April remains strewn with litter but officials say they hope to have it cleaned up sometime this summer.
Bernard Steed still has to walk among 60-plus tires, piles of roofing shingles, a bathtub, two toilets and other trash that were already there, but refuse continues to be dumped.
“Just normal trash like beer bottles, McDonald's. I clean it up,” Steed said.
In April, a ranger for the Lee and North River Ranger districts said they would go out to the site and take an inventory of what kind of waste there is as well as conduct an investigation. Once the investigation was done, the site would be cleaned up.
Steed never saw anyone at the site but the department told him that they had been out and had investigated the dump site. They reassured him they would clean up the site.
“I don’t understand why nothing’s been done,” Steed said.
Acting Deputy District Ranger Kevin Kyle confirmed that national forest personnel had been at the site and recently concluded their investigation.
“The officer carefully looked for evidence, actually digging through the trash that would have indicated who might be responsible. Unfortunately, no clear evidence was uncovered,” Kyle wrote in an email.
They have not yet begun the cleanup but are discussing how to safely remove the debris and trash.
Kyle said he hopes to have a timeline for cleanup in place within the next couple weeks, noting that each cleanup has variables that make them unique and some can take longer than others.
“There is some variability depending on if there are dangerous materials or materials that should not be handled by hand. We would need to schedule heavy equipment, and that may take a little while,” Kyle wrote, pointing out that the asphalt shingles at the site have hundreds of small nails mixed in.
However, he wrote, they hope to have the site cleaned up sometime this summer.
The Forest Service is still considering options for securing the area and reducing or stopping the dumping, Kyle wrote.
“Along with the families that live in that area, we are very concerned and want to find a lasting solution to the problem there, he said. "Unfortunately, it is a very common problem across the forest. It is often a struggle to weigh public access versus resource damage issues in certain areas. We want to be deliberate in finding a lasting solution to this issue.”