When 60 trucks each day head up the Columbia River Gorge to the Waste Management landfill in Gilliam County, they aren't just taking the stuff that greater Portland residents no longer want.
They're also bringing economic power to rural Oregon, through fees and jobs that otherwise wouldn't be available.
Gilliam (pronounced Gill-um) County, population 1,871, sits on the Columbia Plateau between The Dalles and Hermiston. From the freeway, it looks like an endless sea of wheat fields and windmills rising on the hills above the deep blue Columbia River.
But tucked away about 10 miles south of Arlington is the Columbia Ridge Landfill, the largest in the Pacific Northwest and the destination for most of greater Portland's garbage.
Nearly 800 people in and around Gilliam County have jobs because of the landfill, the Metro Council was told on their June 27 tour, providing essential jobs to the residents of the area.
Host fees from the landfill – about $2.20 per ton of municipal waste, $3.8 million in 2017 – pay for high speed broadband for students in towns in Gilliam County, and have helped fund a restoration of Main Street in historic Condon, the county seat.