Press Release: Fighting Illegal Dumping Is the Subject of September’s South Mountain Speakers Series

The South Mountain Speakers Series is an annual lecture series hosted by the South Mountain Partnership that engages the public in on-going, informed dialogue about conservation challenges facing the South Mountain landscape. The next free event will be held on September 12 at 6:30 pm at Caledonia State Park (Park Office Conference Room) in Fayetteville, and will highlight efforts underway to fight illegal dumping and vandalism in the region.

Michaux State Forest Ranger Todd Ottinger and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Program Coordinator Rob Dubas will share tips and strategies they use to combat trash dumping and vandalism like graffiti and discuss how attendees can help solve the problem one piece of garbage at a time.

Ottinger said, “This training is being conducted to inform the public as well as government officials on methods of combating illegal dumping problems in rural and forested areas. Both social and technical aspects successfully used by Keep PA Beautiful as well as Michaux State Forest will be discussed.”

When asked why this topic is relevant to the South Mountain region, Dubas said, “Whenever I had mentioned to friends or family about working at Keep PA Beautiful, almost everyone said they knew of an unsightly dump in their neighborhood. That emphasizes to me how widespread the problem is and how it affects all of the state; urban, suburban, and rural areas included.”

Ottinger and Dubas have worked together to use surveillance cameras (on loan from Keep PA Beautiful’s Surveillance Camera Loan Program) to deter illegal dumping and have outreached with communities to create an enthusiastic network dedicated to forest beautification. Ottinger also worked with local District Justices to implement community service as restitution for illegal activities committed against the state’s natural resources. For his efforts, Ottinger received the national “Environmental Officer Award” in 2017 from Keep America Beautiful.

The South Mountain Speakers Series is presented as a revival of the Michaux Lectures, a series of talks given by Joseph Rothrock to build a groundswell of public support for his work to preserve and restore Pennsylvania’s forested landscape. The late 19th century Michaux Lectures were an educational mission that catalyzed real change in Pennsylvania’s environmental history. As we face the challenges of the 21st century, the South Mountain Speakers Series is intended to encourage a new generation to find in the past a positive vision for the future of the South Mountain landscape.

For more information about the South Mountain Speakers Series, go to