The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently added motion-sensitive cameras at illegal dump sites in Bald Eagle, Buchanan, Sproul, Tiadaghton and Delaware state forests in an effort to identify and prosecute criminals who dump toxic and other materials on state forest and park lands.
"The cameras are a great law enforcement tool for a tough problem," DCNR secretary Michael DiBerardinis said. "Previously installed cameras in Michaux State Forest have helped to deter dumping in that area, and we anticipate the same success in the new areas. Because dumpers will never know where the cameras are, they might think twice about dumping on forestlands. And for those captured on film, we have evidence to move forward with prosecution."
The cameras were purchased as part of the Forest Lands Beautification Program, a campaign to clean up existing dumps on state forest and park lands and educate citizens on proper methods of disposal.
Dumping has been a major problem in the Commonwealth's remote woodlands. Illegal dump sites not only ruin beautiful scenery, they also create hazards for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. Dumped materials can leech into the groundwater, affecting drinking water supplies for many citizens. And discarded tires and similar objects containing standing water can become breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects.
Placed at remote sites throughout the forests, the cameras range from 7 inches long to just 1.5 inches square and will rotate among various locations. Black-and-white, wide-angle color, nighttime and long-range cameras are being used in the effort.
As illegal dumping often occurs in remote areas, the forest cameras will supplement monitoring of dump sites by foresters and volunteers.
"We have written many citations for dumping in Tiadaghton State Forest and will continue our patrols," Tiadaghton Assistant District Forester Charlie Schwarz said. "We hope the thought of being identified on camera will further deter people contemplating dumping in the forest."
If convicted, offenders can be fined up to $300, plus court costs. Often, forest dumpers are also sentenced to perform community service.
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