Big Bend's Landfill
NPS Photo/Lori Michelowski
Big Bend National Park has a landfill within park boundaries. Given that a big part of the National Park Service's mission is to protect and preserve natural, cultural and historic resources, a landfill within the park seems counter-intuitive. But disposing of waste within the park actually saves us the massive cost and air pollution that would be associated with hauling our 500+ tons of trash annually nearly 100 miles to the next nearest landfill. Currently, the only waste hauled out of our park is construction and demolition waste and, of course, our recyclables.
We filed for the original permit for the landfill in 1974, but trash had been disposed of in the park informally before then. A permit allowed for stricter regulations according to both Texas and National Park Service regulations. Our landfill is surrounded with an electric fence to keep out wildlife, well-hidden from the scenic views in the park, and we take great care to make sure all dumped trash is covered completely as quickly as possible to prevent debris blowing out across the park.Based on our current rate of waste generation, our landfill is supposed to reach capacity by 2027, at which point we'll have to look at other options for general waste disposal. While recycling isn't a perfect solution, it is our best bet for using our remaining landfill space as efficiently as possible.