February 06, 2017
Poopgate is solved.
Hundreds of pounds of dog poop littered an environmentally-sensitive state land last summer, set off by the trash cans gone missing. Conditions were described as “appalling” and “disgraceful.”
Purloined receptacles? Not exactly. As a cartoonist once memorably wrote for Earth day, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
In this case, the enemy was bureaucracy, including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Late last July, the DEP confirmed that refuse containers at Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area, which is better known as “Dog Beach,” had disappeared.
The state land sits on a causeway connecting Ocean City, Longport and Somers Point, between Atlantic and Cape May counties, but technically the beach is part of Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County.
The folks at the DEP have just acknowledged they did, in fact, remove the containers. As part of the bureaucracy, department brass were not immediately aware then that its Division of Fish and Wildlife had removed the cans because Cape May County had stopped collecting trash.
“This caused the receptacles to overflow … big time. With no one to collect the trash, we had no choice but to remove the receptacles in hopes of discouraging the growing mounds of refuse,” DEP spokesman Larry Hajna explained in a recent email.
The unintended consequence was “folks decided to plop their poop bags down next to the beach,” wrote Hajna.
“Common sense would dictate that you would take it with you. After all, if you take your dog for a walk in your neighborhood, you wouldn’t put the poop into a plastic bag and leave it on your neighbor’s lawn, would you?”
Hajna noted most state-owned lands have a carry-in, carry-out policies, though Malibu Beach was an exception.
Now, Ocean City is planning to place a mobile refuse collection bin at the beach and empty it twice a week, from May through October.
The plan is under review by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the same folks who spirited away the trash containers in the first place last summer.