People have been parking, necking, drinking and dumping trash up at Beer Can Corner on Yankee Hill for decades.
It’s known as Blewetts Point on maps, but everyone calls it Beer Can Corner. On Friday workers with a contractor employed by the Bureau of Land Management were on the first day of a five-day to six-day cleanup of a 150-foot to 200-foot long dump that included furniture, bedding and a box for a 50-inch Vizio flat-screen LED high-definition television.
The land has been federal since the state formed in 1850, said Peter Graves, a hazard materials program leader with BLM.
“This is the fifth time we’ve been up here to clean up,” said Graves, who’s been working in the Mother Lode area since 2008. “We estimate this to be about 40 yards, four to five dumptrucks.”
Bev Britts said she’s lived Yankee Hill since 1991 and she knows the drill at Beer Can Corner.
“It’s great for sunsets year-round,” Britts said Friday. “Kids come up and park, they might be necking, they might look for Mount Diablo, and necking, and other things you do in a car. A lot of texting goes on up here. And dumping.”
People dump at Beer Can Corner because it’s isolated and because you can back up a truck and dump.
“Sometimes people think it’s OK,” Britts said. “Sometimes we’ve seen them in the process. There’s never been a sign, a ‘No Dumping’ sign.”
Joshua Smith and Corey Marang with North Wind consultants used ropes Friday to descend a steep, cured-grass slope to where some of the dumped trash is.
“It’s disgusting,” Smith said. “Not just because I have to pick it up. It’s the principle of the thing.”
Back in 1995, a Columbia contractor named Jim Grossman estimated he was going to pull 500 bags of garbage off Beer Can Corner. Back then it was known as one of Tuolumne County’s most popular illegal dumping sites, and it was a known magnet for trash dumping since at least the mid-1970s.
Beer Can Corner is still one of the worst spots for illegal dumping in the county, said Dan Hambrick, a solid waste specialist and former solid waste code enforcement officer with Tuolumne County.
“If I catch you at it, I would give you an opportunity to clean it up and take it to the dump,” Hambrick said. “It’s a misdemeanor to dump trash anywhere.”
Graves said BLM can hand out criminal citations from law enforcement, and people who get cited are required to go to court, where they could be convicted of a misdemeanor.
Down below Yankee Hill, there are signs that say “$1000 Fine For Littering” on Big Hill Road and on Sawmill Flat Road.
“You can also get a trespass notice, where you have to pay three times the administrative costs for cleanup, investigation and paperwork,” Graves said. “If it’s $1,000 to cleanup, you could pay $3,000.”
Those triplicate costs can also be compounded daily, Graves said.
Once the area is cleaned up, BLM plans to fence off the area with 75 linear feet of 8-foot-tall chain-link fencing to prevent people from dumping, Graves said.
“Some locals understand the need for it,” Graves said. “Nobody is outraged that we’re going to destroy this beautiful view. They’re glad we’re going to try to stop the dumping.”
Hambrick urges anyone who sees someone dumping to make note of it and call the county’s illegal dumping hotline, (209) 533-5577.
“If you see something, do something,” Hambrick said. “If you can get a license plate number and a vehicle description, that can help.”