MORIARTY, N.M. (KRQE) – A rancher whose property is next to a landfill is dealing with an ugly problem, trash flying to her property. She said it is also a danger to her cattle.

Kim Ortiz’s 9,000-acre ranch is located next to the Estancia Valley Regional Landfill in Moriarty. She’s had the property for nearly 20 years and said recently they’ve been noticing more trash on her property. “We’re receiving so many plastic bags, Styrofoam even PVC pipes that are blowing, rolling across the pastures,” said Ortiz.

It’s not just ugly, it’s dangerous. In the last ten years she’s found her cattle eating trash, the recent victim was a calf. “Just last week we chased around a baby calf for about 15 minutes to get close enough to it on foot to rope it and pull a piece of plastic from its mouth,” said Ortiz.

The calf is doing well but not all of them have had the same luck. Ortiz has lost thousands of dollars. “I think we’ve lost 8 to 11 over the past 10 years. Those are the ones we’ve actually had the necropsies to have proof that we lost them due to the trash,” said Ortiz. “Plastic bags, the beads from Styrofoam they’re just completely clogged up, their intestines were tangled up with these plastic bags.”

Ortiz said the county paid them for the cattle they lost. Ortiz and her husband have been in contact with people from the county and the landfill. “My husband called one of them and they did come out and that was the first time we’ve had actually anybody be interested enough to come see the problem. Even he was horrified at what he was looking at, he had no idea at how bad it was,” said Ortiz.

County crews picked up trash Friday morning. The interim director for the Estancia Valley Regional Landfill sent a statement about the issue. See it below:

The Estancia Valley Solid Waste Authority owns and operates the Estancia Valley Regional Landfill that is east of Moriarty. I have been in contact with Mr. and Mrs Ortiz, along with other property owners that own property close to our landfill a half dozen times, and I have let them know that we are working hard to clean up the trash off of their property. I know the severity that these plastic bags have on cattle, and I have also let them know what our processess are to contracting companies to come and pick up trash. This spring has brought tremendous and close to hazardous winds in this valley, where we have had to shut down our operations several times due to hazard winds and the safety of our employees. I have a crew of 6 employees who work at the landfill, and we take in 120 tons a day. It has been challenging to find people who want to come out to our landfill to clean up trash. We also have to follow procurement policies, and guidelines and getting contracts approved takes time. I have also let each property owner know that Estancia Valley Solid Waste Authority has applied for a solid waste facility grant to help with the costs of mitigating the litter. I had a crew out this past Thursday, Friday, and we plan on working this Monday, Memorial holiday. 

 Danette Cabber, the Interim Director for the Estancia Valley Solid Waste Authority.