BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (KELO) — Ryan Reeves’s ears tell him when a garbage truck is coming from Sturgis during the 10-days of the annual motorcycle rally.
The extra trash generated by rally goers typically averages about 500 tons each year. It also comes with a distinct sound.
“You can hear all the glass — tink, tink, tink off the concrete floor inside,” said Reeves, who serves as the city of Belle Fourche’s Landfill Foreman.
Reeves oversees operations at the landfill, which opens earlier and has longer hours when the Sturgis Rally is ongoing. This year, the rally runs from Aug. 6-15.
Last year was Reeves’ first year at the landfill. He said it wasn’t uncommon to have four or five garbage trucks lined up outside the landfill ready to enter at 5 a.m.
“This year is a little more laid back,” Reeves said. “I’m not sure if the trucks changed their routes or what.”
Last year, the Sturgis Rally reported 444.19 tons hauled during the 10-day rally, which was the smallest amount since 2014. The highest amount of garbage was 753.4 tons of garbage during the record attended rally of 2015.
One ton of garbage is equal to 2,000 pounds. Reeves says people consume way more during the rally than a typical day, which equals additional trips for garbage truck haulers.
On Tuesday morning, a garbage truck from Sturgis pulled into the landfill with nearly 10 tons of garbage. While dumping the trash in a specific spot, a landfill compactor drives over the fresh garbage, crushing it and mixing it with dirt.
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the city of Sturgis reported hauling 44 tons of trash to Belle Fourche, which is up 13.5% from the same time last year.
The mixture is then eventually put into bales of 2.25 tons and take up about 2-cubic yards of space. Reeves said the bales of garbage will be a little looser from the Sturgis Rally in case there’s more broken glass, which can shred the bales.
“It’s pretty simple,” Reeves said. “Garbage comes in and we put it in the ground.”
Commercial garbage trucks, carrying anywhere from 6-8 tons or 12-13 tons, will make at least one more extra stop out at the Belle Fourche Landfill each day during the rally compared to typical days throughout the year.
“Basically us and Rapid (City),” Reeves said. “We take all the municipal solid waste.”
This year has been busy at the landfill even before the rally. Reeves said his crew of 10 people have been processing about 100 tons each day in 2021.
Reeves asked for people coming to the landfill to be patient and to separate the garbage out the best they can.
He expects garbage collections from this year’s rally to top the 2020 total of 444.19 tons. In 2019, 551.39 tons of garbage was hauled from the Sturgis Rally.
At the Belle Fouche landfill, heavier metals, yard waste and tree branches stay out of mixing with everyday trash.
“It’s the longest on-going construction in Belle Fourche,” Reeves said with a laugh.