OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Some people have chosen southern Mendocino County to dump hundreds of truck, car, and tractor tires along the pristine Russian River within the last month.
The Mendocino Sheriff's Office was alerted to this and another close-by site along the Russian River just south of Hopland.
Hundreds of tires were pitched over the side of Highway 101. Chris Brokate, of the Clean River Alliance, is used to cleaning up dumpsites, but not ever like this.
"When you walk up on something like this, it just overwhelms; one big banger of an impact," said Brokate.
In makeshift dumps, during wet months, tires hold water and become a breeding habitat for countless mosquitos. All the time, they contain and slowly leach out cancer-causing compounds. In use or in decay, tires shed microplastics that get into the environment.
One man stopped by for a swim before work. "When I saw that big pile of tires up there, the first thing I thought of was, a crime has been committed here," said Miguel Elliott.
So, who would do such a thing?
"In my mind, I can't see a business or a tire shop owner taking a chance on. They probably have done their job, and they have hired somebody to take these tires to a responsible place that's gonna recycle them," said Brokate.
"I mean you're looking at thousands of dollars going into this guy's pocket. said, Chris Ostrom, co-owner of Ukiah's Pacific Outfitters, who also heads up its PACOUT Green Team that does lots of wildland cleanups.
"Fortunately for us, the sheriff's department here is very understanding and very great to work with," he said.
Though the criminals didn't realize it, they left behind a lot of evidence, most notably, the stickers on some tires.