Brian Jobst is a community activist and long-time resident of West Covina, where he is organizing community members to protect the former BKK landfill as a nature preserve.

Brian Jobst

The Environmental Activist

In the 70s and 80s, the BKK landfill was one of the busiest hazardous and regular waste landfills in the country. But after nearby residents were forced to evacuate their homes for fear of a methane gas explosion, the site officially shut down in 1996. That’s around the time when Brian Jobst discovered it was a great place to hike near his home. “Very few people know about what’s here, the nature that’s reclaiming it, the opportunities to recreate here,” he says while on a hike around the edge of the old landfill, passing native shrubs and wildflowers that have been thriving undisturbed for almost 30 years now. Yet underneath it all are 3.4 million tons of liquid toxic waste and 20 million tons of decomposing trash that could become a serious threat to public health if not handled appropriately. Currently, the City of West Covina owns the land and a developer is proposing an ambitious luxury hotel and amusement park project for this site, but Jobst and other residents have other ideas. They are trying to keep the former BKK as a nature preserve that’s accessible to the entire East San Gabriel Valley, and possibly also, a solar farm. “We’re not anti-development,” says Jobst. “What we’re advocating for is smart development that is suitable for the land.”