Illegally dumped mobile home found on national monument

A pleasant ride through the Agua Fria National Monument this past week ended for a local man when he found a dismantled mobile home dumped on a road within sight of a historic landmark and the Big Bug Creek.

Dumped about five miles outside Cordes Lakes on a side road near Kelton Ranch, the debris of the trailer carcass completely blocks vehicle traffic on the dirt road.

Furious about the illegally dumped trailer and its close proximity to the Big Bug Creek and historic site, the resident called the Upper Agua Fria Watershed Partnership.

"He spends a lot of time in the national monument and was really ticked off when he saw the dump site and the size of it," said Cliff Hersted, of UAFWP. "He had read news stories about our clean-up projects and some of the other illegally dumped mobile homes, so he called me."

Hersted contacted Rem Hawes, Agua Fria National Monument manager, and Hawes reported the crime to Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officers.

Because the trailer is dumped on BLM land and in a national monument, the illegal dumpsite is treated as a federal crime scene.

After receiving the call, Hersted and the resident drove to the dumpsite to look at the crime scene. They took photographs of the debris and tire tracks and looked for any evidence of who dumped the trailer and where the trailer came from.

While Hersted and the resident discussed the dumpsite in a restaurant, a waitress overheard them. She told them about a Cordes Lakes mobile home that was being dismantled, and that the trailer suddenly disappeared one day.

The waitress' tip started a chain of events that lead to other residents coming forward and giving Hersted more information about the crime. After processing all the information, Hersted is convinced he knows where the trailer came from, who may have dumped it and why.

"It looks like it was some people that got hired to haul the trailer away, and instead of disposing of it legally, they must have pocketed the extra money and dumped it here," Hersted said. He sent the information to Hawes at BLM.

The UAFWP is an organization that studies the upper Agua Fria River and its tributaries. It also is responsible for removing more than 100 tons of trash during the past several years from illegal dumpsites from the Mayer area down into the national monument.

"It's good to know that the public is getting more aware of us (UAFWP) and all our clean-up work," Hersted said. "When we start getting people calling us to tell us about illegal dumpsites, it makes it that much easier to catch the criminals doing it."

Hersted drives on back roads and around the national monument in a white Ford pickup looking for illegal dumpsites. The pickup, with the eye-catching UAFWP logo painted on the sides, is becoming a familiar sight on local back roads.

"People are getting more and more disgusted with the illegal dumping," Hersted said. "The more the public helps law enforcement catch the people doing the dumping, fewer people will be willing to take the risk to illegally dump trailers and other trash we go out and have to haul away."

To report illegal dumping and other crimes on BLM lands call 1-800-637-9152, or Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232.