POSTED: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 7:03pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 8:17am
EL PASO (KTSM) — It has long been one of El Paso’s biggest out door tourist attractions, but these days the Red Sands dunes are looking more like a dump site.
Some visitors are overwhelmed not by the beauty, but by what else they find.
"It was a fabulous experience. Riding through the dunes, riding through the back areas, but the problem was the trash," said visitor Alex Hertel.
Floridians Alex and Nick Hertel took a ride through the dunes today. They said today was their last day in El Paso and wanted to visit the dunes before they left. But the Herterls were overwhelmed by the amount of trash they saw.
“Everywhere else I’ve been riding, I had never seen this much trash before. It's pretty dirty," said Nick Hertel.
Illegal dumping has long been a problem in El Paso County. Broken beer bottles, nails, pallets and crates filled with plastic containers can all be found lying around making it difficult for riders to enjoy the red sands experience.
Nearby business owner said the problem is worse than it’s ever been, but said it’s hard to keep an eye on the problem when you have over a thousand people at a time in the area.
"A lot of the problem stands from folks coming here on the weekends we get several thousand people at times on Sundays,” said owner of Rent an ATV Off Road Adventures, Jamil Moutran. “They come out here and they bring beer bottles and coolers and things like that and the problem is they don't pack out what they packed in."
Illegal dumping is a very serious crime. Those who are caught leaving trash on county property can face fines of up to $4,000 plus a year in jail. The only problem is the land in Red Sands is private, so ultimately it’s up to the owners to keep it clean or that owner could face fines.
“We are working on trying to put dumpsters at the main entrance and also a billboard asking people to help us out, help keep Red Sands clean," said Moutran
"You have this for only so long,” said Alex. “If you keep wrecking it, it’s going to be eventually shut down."