New start for recreation area

County officials are joining the U.S. Forest Service to curtail illegal dumping, graffiti and unauthorized use of the Dresslerville Pit, but the effort comes with a pricetag. Douglas County will spend $21,550 and the Forest Service, $13,157.

The property, more than 1,800 acres south of the Gardnerville Ranchos, is owned by the forest service but Douglas County's parks department gets the complaints. The area is heavily used by county residents, for everything from hiking and cycling to RVs and target practice, said Scott Morgan, community services director.

"We've asked the forest service to increase their patrol and we're routinely told they don't have the funding," Morgan said. "So we're looking at joint management."

Covered with sage, bitterbrush, and desert peach, the area is laced with dirt roads. Shotgun shells and discarded appliances are scattered randomly, piles of lighter garbage blow in the wind.

"We see a lot of undesirable activity there, graffiti, vandalism, dumping and shooting," Morgan said.

The popular recreation area received of massive cleanup in April. With the cooperation of volunteers, the Washoe Tribe and others, 10 tons of debris were removed but the illegal dumping and graffiti have increased since the pit closed less than a year ago. Closure of the Dresslerville Pit last year exacerbated the problem, because daily presence of workers on site provided a deterrent, Morgan said.

Residents nearby are frustrated due to a lack of enforcement, he said.

"Residents get license numbers when they see illegal dumping. They call, but nothing is done," he said.

A proposed development that has been approved adjacent to the area will make matters worse, he said.

Douglas County will provide litter management, graffiti cleanup and maintain wire fencing around the pit.

Forest Service officials will perform routine road and trail maintenance and reconstruction, in addition to replacing site identification and bulletin boards.

Personnel will be checking the area daily and picking up trash during peak summer and fall hours.

Patrols will be reduced to three times a week in the winter, Morgan said.

"We believe a daily presence, primarily during peak season, is the key to success," he said.

Commissioner David Brady asked why the county is paying more than the forest service.

Morgan said the money for this additional service is coming from Douglas County's general fund and if the budget doesn't allow, the agreement can be rescinded with 30 days' notice.

Commission Chairman Doug Johnson said Dresslerville Pit is a safety issue. It's not a matter of whether, but when we will have another budget issue.

"If we don't do something, someone is going to get hurt," said Commissioner Kelly Kite.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment