In an effort to crackdown on illegal dumping in state parks and natural lands, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has launched a year-long pilot program, "Don't Waste Our Open Space," which combines enforcement and education to combat the problem.

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"Too often, we see our most pristine properties and favorite getaways fall victim to illegal dumpers, who have no regard for the environment, wildlife or people who enjoy the outdoors," said DEP commissioner Bob Martin in a press release Thursday. "The goal of this crackdown is to let violators know their actions will not be tolerated and that there will be consequences for what they do. At the same time, the success of this initiative also will be determined by raising public awareness on this issue and to encourage our residents to get involved in this effort."

Illegal dumping has been a growing problem throughout the state's 21 counties in recent years. In fact, nearly all of the state's more than 170 publicly owned tracts have been impacted.

We see everything from construction debris to tires to computers and household debris that's being dumped in the parks," Martin said.

Under the campaign, motion-sensor cameras will be set up to catch violators.

"We're putting in remote cameras in numerous parks and in numerous locations, especially locations that we've had illegal dumping done before," Martin said.

Penalties for illegal dumping in state parks and in fish and wildlife areas will include criminal fines of up to $5,000 per violation and civil penalties of up to $1,500 per violation.

The campaign will focus on public education by using the new website, to provide visitors to New Jersey's parks and natural areas information on how to inform DEP of illegal dumping, and what to do if you see illegal dumping as it happens.

Other information on the website will include details on how to legally dispose of various materials, and cleanup opportunities around the state.

More warning and education signs about illegal dumping at state parks and natural lands will also be posted.

The anti-dumping campaign is a joint effort between DEP agencies, New Jersey State Police, the Attorney General's office, municipalities, county park systems and local police.

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