Column: County trash problem more visible during flash flooding

Published 2:11 pm Monday, January 29, 2024

It is no secret Lincoln County has a trash problem. The issue is not that the county road crew is not working hard enough to clean up trash along roadways, underneath bridges and illegal dump sites, the issue lies with the people who selfishly litter. 

Our road crews could work all day and every day for the entire year and not keep up with the amount of trash that ends up where they do not belong. At the January 17th Board of Supervisors meeting, the topic of road crews cleaning state highways came up. MDOT and Lincoln County entered a memorandum of understanding where the county will be reimbursed for cleaning up highways if MDOT is unable to. The fact we have to keep workers busy cleaning up the county is sad. 

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said they took a couple of days cleaning up US84 from the Franklin County line to the Lawrence County line. County roads are a priority and there is not enough time in the work day to keep them perfectly cleaned. 

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I recognize it is unlikely the people who litter will read this column or even change their ways. It takes minimal effort to properly dispose of trash and even then litterers aren’t willing to put forth minimal effort. 

Flash flooding only makes the litter problem in Lincoln County more visible. Washing machines, spray bottles, plastic tubs, shoes, coke cans, beer cans, tires, oil tins and a plastic McDonalds Cup washed through the floodplain of the Bayou Pierre where I live in Lincoln County. 

Bottomland habitat and hardwood bottoms of systems like the Bayou Pierre and the Bogue Chitto River are part of the neat biodiversity in Lincoln County. 

Last weekend I sat in a bend on the Bayou Pierre and watched the water trickling through a log jam either caused by debris buildup or beavers. Wood ducks swam within 10 yards of me and likely never knew I was there. It was beautiful and serene. One of my favorite parts of the property because it is so different compared to the upland mixed timber stand across the road. 

I know flash flood waters will roar through that same area taking out privet hedges and depositing new pieces of trash this week. Litter is a disease, invading the natural world where it should not be. It reflects poorly on the county population and how much a few people in our society care about our environment.

It will take a heart change for the people who litter to stop. Maybe one day it will happen. In the meantime, our county road crew will be picking up after grown adults.