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By David Knopf/Richmond News
Ray County Lake is a Missouri Department of Conservation Area typically known for its pastoral setting, as well as good bass, catfish, sunfish and crappie fishing.
With a boat ramp, wheelchair access and fishing jetties that get anglers get close to the action, it’s a 25-acre site at the heart of 160 acres of public land surrounded by pasture and hills west of Richmond.
But the beauty of the natural setting doesn’t seem to convince some users not to toss their litter – bottles, paper cups, bait buckets and cans – in the water, along the shore and in the grass.
Parking areas are clearly marked with signs that warn visitors that littering, a Class A misdemeanor, carries up to a $1,000 fine and the possibility of a year in jail.
Tammy Pierson, the sole agent for Ray County’s 10 conservation areas, is spread thin, enforcing MDC regulations in a territory that encompasses 2,000 acres of public land.
“It’s challenging to prosecute a littering case,” said Pierson, who’s been the county’s agent 16 years. “In a littering case, I not only have to see them, I have to see them leaving the area.”