All posts by Barb Smerkar

DIGITAL ORIGINAL: Survey finds outdoor time beneficial, outdoor visits increase during pandemic

ABC 27 News – LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A recent poll shows that a majority of Pennsylvanians surveyed consider time spent outdoors to be “essential” to their wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are steps visitors can take to safely enjoy the outdoors while minimizing their negative impacts on natural spaces.

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The Allegheny Front –  Reports of illegal dumping to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful were up by 212 percent in 2020. Their community-based enforcement program called Illegal Dump Free PA does have a surveillance camera loan program so that communities can catch people in the act of throwing couches over hillsides or trash bags into wooded areas. But program coordinator Rob Dubas says a lot of reports of illegal dumping come from the public through a form on one of their two websites, through social media, phone calls, and in one case, a letter that was sent through regular old snail mail.

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City of Pittsburgh working with Allegheny CleanWays to clean up illegal dumping sites

Next Pittsburgh -Pittsburgh officials and a local nonprofit are working together to aggressively tackle illegal dumping in the city. On Wednesday, a Pittsburgh City Council standing committee green-lighted a pact to allow Allegheny CleanWays to remove debris from chronic dumping sites that plague city neighborhoods. Under the measure, the group would be allowed to access city public works sites. The measure is likely to go before a full City Council vote on Sept. 8, says Molly Onufer, assistant communications director for Mayor Bill Peduto.

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City of Reading Determined to Catch, Prosecute Those Engaged in Illegal Dumping – Reading, PA – On August 15, 2020, at approximately 10:13 am, a sergeant assigned to the Reading Police Department Patrol Division was conducting a patrol in the area of the Buttonwood Street Bridge, responding to reports of illegal trash dumping. The sergeant located a Ford F-150 underneath the bridge, back into the entrance of the Thun Trail. Upon further investigation, the sergeant was able to determine that two males were attempting to dump several large bags of trash illegally at the location. The garbage was then loaded back into the vehicle, and the owner was issued a citation pursuant to the City of Reading ordinance prohibiting the depositing of litter in a public place. The case is proceeding under due process. In addition to this case, RPD has intervened with at least four other incidents in the past two months; all suspects were issued a citation.

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County, city team up to combat dumping

New Castle News -Lawrence County and the City of New Castle have joined forces in the fight against illegal dumping.
“Dumping has been a long-standing problem for most municipalities across Pennsylvania,” said Jerry Zona, director of recycling and solid waste for Lawrence County.
Last year, code enforcement supervisor Patrick McGuire approached Zona about the prospect of borrowing some of the county’s cameras to set up around the city to catch people dumping.
Recently, though, McGuire learned the ins-and-outs of the cameras and they were installed.
“It’s a good partnership,” Mayor Chris Frye said, who noted he agreed with McGuire to approach the county about the collaboration.
On May 16, the new surveillance system caught a man in a white pickup truck dumping on the side of a road on the city’s West Side.

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Trash troubles in Centralia

The News Station WNEP – CENTRALIA, Pa. — Centralia is the latest community to fall victim to illegal dumping as piles of garbage are being dumped throughout the community.
A mine reclamation group wants to raise awareness and stop it from happening again.
Fewer than a dozen people currently call Centralia home, but many more visit the community daily. While most just bring their cameras to capture memories of Centralia and its underground mine fire, lately, some people are bringing garbage and lots of it.

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More than 40 tires dumped on Lancaster County road: police

Penn Live Patriot News – Police are looking for the person who dumped 43 used tires in West Earl Township over the weekend.

West Earl Township police believe the tires were dumped between midnight and 9 a.m. Sunday, along Miley Road.

The tires created a traffic hazard, police said. Illegal dumping on Miley Road has been an ongoing issue, police said, and the department has increased surveillance of the area.

Anyone with information on the dumping is asked to contact Officer Jeremy Sorensen at 717-859-1411 x115. Callers can remain anonymous. Tips can also be left through the department’s Crimewatch website.

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Down in the dumps: Poconos seeing rash of illegal dumping

Pocono Record -Despite the stay-at-home order that has kept Pennsylvanians cooped up for the past month, reports of littering and illegal dumping have increased drastically across the commonwealth, including Monroe County.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful announced last week that since the start of Governor Tom Wolf’s stay at home order on April 1, over 73 incidents of illegal dumpsites across 35 counties have been reported, making up 70% of the year’s total reports in just a month.

According to program director Rob Dubas, by Friday another two incidents had been noted, and more reports were expected over the weekend.

With this leap in littering, many Pennsylvania authorities are looking for answers as to how and why this is happening, and what can be done to tidy up the trash.


Dubas and other members of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful speculate that the reduction or suspension of trash and recycling collection services during the COVID-19 pandemic may be partially to blame for the problem.

Household trash is the most frequently reported item at 47 sites, followed by tires at 31 sites.

Bulk waste pickups and special collections for appliances, electronics and buildings supplies — such as demolition and construction waste — which have been pushed off until late summer or fall also add to the issue.

Staff cuts at state parks, forests and game lands — which saw about 14% of the total illegal dumping reports — may contribute to the problem as well.

“It’s been quite the increase,” Dubas said in regard to the uptick in reports. “I think part of that is people are getting out there more and promoting the reporting form, but local trail managers have been telling us that they’ve been seeing an increase in littering in parks, too.”

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Damage to state forest, state parks increased through stay-at-home period

Penn Live Patriot News -From illegal dumping of household trash to offense graffiti on landmark rock formations to intentional damage to infrastructure and the environment, state forests and state parks across Pennsylvania have been taking a beating during the coronavirus pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders.

Confinement orders that allow for socially distanced outdoor recreation in the forests and parks has led to large increases in visitation, which have led to environmental impacts, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“State forests are experiencing higher incidences of vandalism and illegal activity, such as ATV riding on state forest roads, graffiti, dumping of trash and waste, and removal and damage of gates,” the department noted in its weekly Resource newsletter.

“These illegal activities damage the environment and take away from the natural experience and natural beauty that all forest users have the right to enjoy.”

While no overall tally of the damage has been prepared, Terry Brady, press secretary for DCNR, noted, “Incidence of illegal dumping is up across the state in our state forests. That could be attributed to the belief that DCNR is shut down.”

But rangers and forest district staff are still actively patrolling during the COVID-19 outbreak and will issue citations and prosecute those who are engaged in illegal activity on state forest lands.

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Illegal Dumping on the Rise in Pennsylvania: Report it to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

(April 29 2020) – Since stay at home orders were issued on April 1 due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful has received 73 reports identifying illegal dumpsites in 35 different counties across the state. Fourteen percent of the sites are located on state park, state forest, or game lands.

The 73 reports make up 70% of the reports received by the organization so far this year. The increase in dumping could be a result of temporary suspension of trash hauling and recycling services citing worker safety and other limitations. Bulky waste pick-ups and special collections of electronics, tires and appliances have also been postponed until late summer or fall, increasing the problem.

The most frequent item reported was household trash, which was found at 47 sites, followed by tires at 31 sites. Other items reported were appliances, electronics and building supplies, such as demolition and construction waste.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, a statewide nonprofit, is asking Pennsylvania residents to help locate and report illegal dumping and/or graffiti as part of their Illegal Dump Free program at

“Litter and dumped trash poses a threat to the environment as well as to those who clean it up. Documenting illegal dumpsites is a critical step in educating people about illegal dumping on our lands and waters and ultimately in helping to restore the natural beauty of our state. Please be a good steward and if you see an illegal dumpsite, report it,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

Dumpsite information will be logged and shared with local enforcement authorities, as well as local affiliates, state agency partners and other partners. Photos can be included in the report. Contact information of those reporting a site will be kept confidential.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful also offers a security camera loan program to curb illegal dumping by exposing those who commit this crime. The program offers three concealable, lockable cameras and accessories that capture usable, conviction-worthy footage of license plates and illegal dumpers – even at night. For more information visit or contact Rob Dubas at or 724.836.4121 ext. 107. The program is available to municipalities, state agencies and nonprofit organizations.

“With the help of Pennsylvania residents we can document what’s out there and reduce the amount of new dumping. We also want to reassure our volunteers that we are busy planning and preparing for the post-pandemic cleanups that are sure to come once restrictions are lifted. We’ll have a lot of catching up to do,” said Reiter.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s Pick Up Pennsylvania, in support of the International Coastal Cleanup is tentatively planned for September 1 through November 30. Information on the availability of cleanup supplies and supply distribution details will be communicated as they become available. Registration will tentatively open on August 1 at

Last spring, 7 million pounds of trash and recyclables and 19,082 tires were removed from Pennsylvania roads, trails and waterway through the Pick Up Pennsylvania spring program.

Anyone wishing to support future cleanups can make a donation on our website by clicking on Donate Now or by contacting Barb Christner, Director of Development at or 724.836.4121, ext 114.


About Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s mission is empowering Pennsylvanians to keep our communities clean and beautiful.  Since 1990, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and its volunteers have removed over 147 million pounds of litter from Pennsylvania’s roadways, greenways, parks, forests, and waterways. To learn more about Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, visit   

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