Contractors for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have completed the cleanup of an illegal junkyard in Marion that has been the source of community complaints for more than a decade.
According to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and DEQ, Michael Linstead has been operating an illegal junkyard on about an acre of property near Marion, and as of this year there were more than 100 cars on it and thousands of old tires, along with other trash and hazardous materials, including human waste. The property did not have water or sewage services.
Linstead has been arrested on a warrant for a misdemeanor failure to appear charge.
In 2013, the Flathead County Planning and Zoning Office received a formal complaint from neighbors that Linstead was operating an illegal junkyard and that the fence surrounding it was falling down. Additional complaints were filed in 2014 and 2015. The case was forwarded to the county attorney’s office in 2016.
In 2017, Linstead was convicted of violating the Flathead County Community Decay Ordinance and ordered to pay a fine. However, he did not appear for his court hearings and was subsequently charged with failure to appear.
Shasta Steinweden is the DEQ environmental enforcement specialist who has been working on the Linstead case. She said DEQ worked with Missouri River Contractors on the cleanup that began on June 10 and was completed by June 14. Although she did not have final numbers from the cleanup, she said that in three days, more than 350 tons of waste was moved from the site to the Flathead County landfill. That did not include vehicles or scrap metal that can be salvaged.
Linstead has been fined $60,000. Any money made from the salvage of vehicles on the property will be used to pay down that debt.