Grant program pays for illegal dumping cleanup costs in Contra Costa Co.

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An extreme yet not uncommon example of the overtly illegal blight found on rural Contra Costa County roads — an RV-trailer left on the side of the road.

A warning notice issued by the sheriff’s office acknowledges it’s misplaced, but ultimately, it’ll be up to the property owner to handle the removal.

“I’ve also encountered boats, tires, construction debris,” said research conservationist Ben Weise. 

The clean-up costs can run in the tens of thousands of dollars.

For two decades now state waste management agency Calrecycle has offered farmers and ranchers grant money that will reimburse the costs to clean-up illegal dumping.

Two years ago, the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District helped a rancher apply through the program for the first time and the money awarded helped remove 120 tons of dumped construction debris.

“Farmers get up, go out, time to, you know, get on the tractor, do some work and, oh, hey, there’s a mattress in the middle of my field, you know, its crazy,” Weise said. 

Weise is a research conservationist for the resource conservation district.

He helps ranchers and farmers apply for up to $50,000 in grant money.

Two ranchers in Antioch and Knightsen were just awarded more than $31,000 to clean-up their land.

The farmers still have to round up all of the trash and get rid of it themselves, but thanks to the grant money, they’ll be fully reimbursed for whatever costs are incurred.

“It’s easy to think it’s not our problem anymore, it’s out there on the agricultural land, we don’t need to worry about that,” Weise said. “But, you know, that boat full of motor oil and all sorts of other junk in there is slowly degrading over time, which is getting into our soil, getting into our food, getting into the creeks. So, with this grant, we’re hoping to get that stuff off the land.”

Applications for the grant are accepted three times a year. 

The money awarded can also be used to reimburse preventative illegal dumping measures, like fencing and cameras.

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