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World's Largest Garbage Dump next to Joshua Tree National Park?

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Photo by Paraflyer via Flickr

Photo by Paraflyer via Flickr
In a major victory for environmentalists, the 9th District Court of Appeals today sided with the National Parks Conservation Association in a fight against a landfill, which would be surrounded by Joshua Tree National Park on three sides, meant for garbage from L.A. County brought in by train.

The two decades old proposal has been stuck in various court cases over the last 18 years and if defendants decide to appeal today's decision, there's no telling when this saga will end.

At issue is a 4,654-acre site (complete with canyons), about 1.5 miles from the park's boundaries. Owners of the property, along with a blessing from the government's Bureau of Land Management, want to sell it to L.A. County for use as a land fill that would take in 20,000 tons a day when in operation, which would be 16 hours a day for six days a week for 117 years.

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Needless to say, that much trash and activity is harmful to the goals of conservation (for example: trash could increase the raven and coyote population. Both species also eat the endangered desert tortoises). Add to that, the proposed landfill would be near park wilderness, which is the highest level of designated protection the federal government can give a piece of land.

The National Parks Conservation Association, which calls the proposed project the largest landfill in the world, says L.A. County could avoid needing such a space if the Mesquite Landfill were to be used in addition to a recycling rate by 10 percent to 60 percent.

The Stanford Environmental Law Clinic fought the case on behalf of the association. Also involved in the case against the landfill were Larry and Donna Charpied. Huell Howser fans might remember them being featured in an episode about the jojoba plant.