Don’t trash the mountains!

SAN BERNARDINO – Hundreds of thousands of visitors will travel to San Bernardino and Riverside mountain resorts this winter for recreation. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) released survey data in June 2016 that shows nearly half of all motorists surveyed admit to sometimes littering along the state’s highways. Nearly one in five California motorists report intentionally dumping something on the side of the highway. In addition, another 6 percent of motorists admitted that they fail to pick up waste left by pets on the side of the highway.

Caltrans District 8 Director John Bulinski joined San Bernardino 2nd District County Supervisor Janice Rutherford, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Forestry with support from the United States Forest Service, San Bernardino County Fire, Sheriff’s Department and County Public Works to urge the public to keep trash inside their vehicles and dispose of it in the proper place – not along mountain roadsides or on private property.

Reports of litter and debris along State Routes 2, 18, 38, 138, and 330 came from mountain communities after the Christmas holiday and snowstorm. Heavy traffic volumes continued throughout the holiday weekend while tourists enjoyed the snow and recreational activities. With that came hundreds of pounds of litter. Another storm is expected to take place this weekend with the same influx of tourism and snow seekers.

Amazingly, 94 percent of people identify litter as a major environmental problem and yet people still litter. Litter causes harm to people and animals, damages our waterways, costs money and suggests that we do not care for our environment. Fortunately, we can all do something to help prevent and reduce litter.

Research and experience show that litter is the result of individual behavior – choosing to litter or being careless in the handling of waste. And once litter is on the ground, it attracts more litter. It causes a whole range of problems for everyone.

Litter discarded on roadways and mountain land travels through the stormwater system to our rivers and creeks, where it causes harm to wildlife.

Litter costs money. Removing litter from the environment costs everyone money. Litter is a threat to public health.

Litter attracts vermin and is a breeding ground for bacteria. And can be a fire hazard. Accumulated litter and careless discarded cigarette butts are potential fire hazards and looks bad. Litter negatively affects the image of places, especially the appearance of communities and litter attracts more litter by sending out a message that people do not care and that it is acceptable to litter.

Caltrans has been working with partner agencies from Riverside and San Bernardino counties to address the litter problem in mountain areas after holiday weekends. Local residents, community members and businesses have worked diligently to keep their community clean for visitors to enjoy. Cal-Fire and the USFS continue to work with Caltrans to clean Southern California mountain regions after snow events. But those tax dollars could be saved for better use if people stashed their trash!

The CHP and Sheriff Departments will be looking for litter bugs while on patrol. Fines for littering can cost up to $1,000, but the long-term damage to the forest and waterways can last a lifetime.

Please help keep the mountains beautiful and stop litter before it happens! Here are some ways you can help:

Bring trash bags with you and keep litter and cigarette butts in your car until you can dispose of them properly.

Recycle bottles and cans and take them with you.

Don’t leave broken snow toys behind.

Never throw anything in lakes, streams or waterways.

Use the restroom before traveling – traffic congestion and long delays are in store during high volume weekends. It might be a while before you can get to a public restroom.

Discard dirty diapers in trash receptacles.

Don’t play in the snow on private property or non-designated areas – use the designated snow play areas provided – get the USFS Adventure Pass to play in the forest.

Don’t block snow plows or travel lanes with your vehicle to put chains on or park. It adds to congestion and emergency vehicles and work crews need access to keep everyone safe!

Travelers are encouraged to visit the mountains during winter months and we encourage you to be the example to keep litter in its place, says USFS officials. Please be courteous and concerned for the environment and the future we leave our children. Caltrans invites you to be part of the solution and join the Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) Program. Go to http://adopt-a-highway.dot.ca.gov/ or call (909) 888-5394

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