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Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Railroad speeder car rides and other outdoor recreation activities may one day be available along the railroad tracks between Loleta and Fernbridge, thanks to the efforts of volunteers.

The group was out in force this past Saturday, with one particular focus -- to clean up an illegal household dumping area along the railroad tracks on Eel River Drive.

You can't see the dump from the road -- it's over the side of a small hill -- but it's been a thorn in Wally Coppini's side for quite some time.

”I've been wanting to clean this up for a while,” he said. Coppini and other concerned community members did that last weekend.

Eel River Resource Recovery donated four large disposal bins to the effort. And because the actual dump site was further up the tracks from where the disposal bins were, North Coast Railroad Authority provided a road-rail dump truck to move the household waste. Bernie Christen and Carl Casale helped secure the use of and transport the road-rail vehicle, which can be driven both on the highways and the railroad tracks.

Wendt Construction brought an excavator to the site to help with the cleanup, and other volunteers included Virgil and Judy Thompson, Jim Carr, John and Janice Simmons, and Coppini.

Janice Simmons said she wanted to acknowledge the person who spearheaded the project.

”If it weren't for Wally (Coppini),” she said, “this would not be getting done.”

Other community partners include Bear River Casino, Ferndale Valley Farms, and the Miranda Dairy.

Janice Simmons described the dump site along Eel River Drive as one that included approximately 15 years of illegally dumped appliances, tires, household garbage, and even an old car body. She said there's not been much evidence of recent activity there and that Humboldt County has been asked to beef up the berm on the edge of the turnout to prevent additional dumping.

In addition to the clean-up of the dumping area, crews from High Rock Conservation Camp, SWAP, and the California Conservation Corps have been clearing brush along the railroad tracks for nearly three miles.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

An excavator operated by Wendt Construction employee Monty Bowers assisted with clean-up of an illegal household dumping area along Eel River Drive between Fernbridge and Loleta.