- Talk about a s***** situation.
It’s never nice when somebody leaves garbage all over a public space. But at least in most cases, the trash is just empty drink bottles and cans, food wrappers, takeaway boxes… Stuff that’s fairly easy to clean.
But the town of Bolton, Vermont, is struggling with a different kind of waste. Somebody keeps dumping into Bolton’s green spaces — literally.
Up to the writing of this story, both passersby and officials have on several occasions discovered bags containing human bodily waste in Bolton woods. And we’re not talking about just a couple of turds.
All in all, someone has left hundreds of pounds worth of poop in Bolton’s forests. Every time sanitation authorities clean the mess up, new bagfuls of crap will soon appear.
Needless to say, everybody in town is pretty fed up with the situation. Now, both local and state officials are upping their efforts to find the serial dumper.
They don’t want to throw the person in jail, mind you. They just want to offer help to a person who clearly needs it.
400 Pounds of Crap
The dumping was first discovered earlier this spring. In May, volunteers from the Green Mountain Club — a non-profit organization maintaining Vermont’s Long Trail hiking route — were preparing to start cleaning the trail for the hiking season.
Near a suspension footbridge that crosses Winooski River, which runs by Bolton, one volunteer made an unpleasant discovery. Someone had been using the side of the Long Trail as their personal dumping ground.
Dozens of black trash bags lay on the ground along the trail. Thinking it was just someone’s household garbage, the volunteer went to take a look.
It was poop. Pounds upon pounds of poop.
That was more than one volunteer could handle. They alerted the Green Mountain Club and the site was cleared up with additional help.
“Our thanks to the Green Mountain Club for mobilizing 10 volunteers who spent hours cleaning up the 400+ pounds of feces and toilet paper,” Amy Grover, Bolton Town Clerk, posted on social media at the time.
After the incident, the Bolton Select Board, the town’s health officer, and the Conservation Commission gathered to find a way to prevent such a thing from happening again. They decided to put up “no dumping” signs.
That ought to take care of the problem, right?
‘It Hasn’t Stopped’
What, the signs did absolutely nothing? What a shocker! The poop dumping has continued all through the summer, according to Bolton town official.
“We all hoped that the dumping had stopped. It hasn’t,” said Grover.
“Black garbage bags filled with human feces and large amounts of toilet paper continue to be dumped in the same vicinity on Duxbury Road. Some of the bags are being dragged off by animals, ripped open, and their contents spewed onto folks’ properties.”
Keegan Tierney, director of field programs at the Green Mountain Club, said their volunteers had carried out three cleanups near the footbridge where the crap was originally found. Fortunately, the club is well-equipped to handle human waste.
They maintain several toilets along the Long Trail to help hikers relieve themselves when nature calls. As such, they have all the necessary equipment to protect volunteers from all the grossness as they dispose of the poop bags.
Still, with the continued dumping, everybody’s getting frustrated with the situation.
No Punishment, Only Help
Now, the town, Green Mountain Club, and Vermont state officials are pleading with the public to let them know if they notice anyone dumping poop by the Long Trail. Better yet, they’re asking the culprit themselves to come forward and turn themselves in.
“We don’t know how to connect with or how to stop whoever is doing the dumping,” said Grover.
But the officials also stress that the dumper has nothing to worry about. No one is seeking to prosecute, arrest, or fine them, they emphasize.
According to Grover, Bolton authorities think they know why somebody’s dumping their waste in the woods. They think it’s simply a case of someone having a broken septic tank system and not having the funds to fix it.
According to the WCAX news outlet, a new septic system can cost as much as $40,000 and repairs aren’t much cheaper.
“The regulatory landscape can be difficult to navigate sometimes. Access to resources aren’t always equal and then the cost can be pretty costly depending on what’s needed,” said Megan Cousino from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.
Because of the exorbitant costs, Vermont has in place a program to help low-income residents pay for new septic systems. They just need to come forth and apply for the aid.
That’s what they’re now hoping the poop dumper would do.
“Our goal is to help get the system fixed and make sure that people have a safe clean environment to live in,” said Cousino.