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Recreation area has turned into desert dumping ground

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Recreation area has turned into desert dumping ground

By Kean Bauman. CREATED Nov 4, 2013 - UPDATED: Nov 5, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A recreation area has turned into a desert dumping ground with trash and debris as far as the eye can see. Contact 13's Darcy Spears investigated an eyesore in our landscape to see who is responsible for the dumping and why government authorities can't seem to control it.

We met with Brandon Burns, a certified firearms instructor and Iraq war veteran, who enjoys the freedom of shooting on public lands.

Burns often visits an area near Corn Creek just off the 95 and about six miles north of the Mount Charleston turn-off.

"There's no ranges out here. There's no range commands. There's no range officers. You basically set up your own targets at your own leisure," said Burns.

But there’s a downside. Over the years people have used anything and everything for target practice.

"A lot of people bring out their old vacuums, televisions," said Aaron Roley another shooter Contact 13 met at the site.

Signs posted at the dirt road entrance tell shooters not to litter, to remove all targets and casings, and to help keep public lands clean. But the signs are clearly being ignored.

"This whole area is just riddled with trash, litter, and as many kinds of bullets and shotgun shells that you can think of," says Burns.

Kirsten Cannon is the Public Affairs Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, Southern Nevada District Office, "Desert dumping is a huge problem in Southern Nevada. Not just associated with target shooting."

The BLM is responsible for 3 million acres in Southern Nevada.

The shooters we spoke with say they rarely, if ever, see any enforcement in the area.

"We absolutely do enforce the laws," says Cannon.  "Every year we cite about 50 people for littering and dumping."

And Cannon said the BLM patrols the area near Corn Creek weekly. With so much trash already on the ground, it’s difficult for authorities to know who dropped what and when.

"It's very hard to catch people in the act of dumping," said Cannon.

Fines for littering range from $150-$500 for typical trash items like target boards, cans and papers. There are stiffer penalties for things like broken glass and television sets which are considered hazardous waste.

The BLM identified 350 sites in Southern Nevada where dumping is a problem including 33 target shooting areas while 82 sites were cleaned up in the last year.

Cannon tells us the BLM believes education is a better solution than enforcement.

"People need to recognize that this is their public land and so when they leave trash, they're leaving trash on their public lands. So it's like leaving trash around your house."

That’s the attitude Brandon Burns wants to see more often around here.

"I would like to see this place a lot more cleaned up. It would be safer to drive around. It would make it a better experience out here."

The BLM has started a pilot program called Adopt-a-Spot. The volunteer clean-up effort has good results so far and they're hoping for more. For more information call (702) 515-5166.