Off-roaders remove car, shooting debris, sofas and more from SITLA ‘eyesore’

Volunteers rearrange and stomp debris in a dumpster, in an attempt to fit all the trash gathered Saturday morning into a 30 cubic-yard dumpster, St. George, Utah, April 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Old sofas, shooting debris, construction materials and burn piles – along with a desert tortoise – were among items found during a cleanup Saturday sponsored by local land-use advocates in an area west of Navajo Drive in the Bloomington area of St. George.

An abandoned, burned car is removed from the cleanup area by Gordy Wade, owner of Dixie Auto Salvage, St. George, Utah, April 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

On Saturday, 34 enthusiastic off-roaders gathered for the project on State Institutional Trust Lands Administration property, Desert Rats board member Bud Sanders said in a statement.

“The Desert Roads and Trails Society promotes responsible land use and this (area) has been an eyesore out here for several years,” Desert Rats president Jeff Bieber said.

“We do desert cleanups regularly, and it seems that each time we come back to the previous cleanup areas there is less trash,” Bieber said.

Read more: ‘Clean up after yerself’; Desert RATS picks up shooting debris, burn piles on Arizona Strip

“We know that trash breeds trash, and hopefully by cleaning up the shooting debris those less responsible shooters will now take out whatever they bring in,” Bieber said.

Volunteers rearrange and stomp debris in a dumpster while others clean a burn pile during a cleanup project west of Navajo Drive in Bloomington area of St. George Saturday, St. George, Utah, April 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

The cleanup is one of several each year organized by the Desert Rats and the Utah Public Lands Association in an effort to not only clean up public lands but also encourage others to take better care of the land.

“I think we made a big dent in our objective,” Desert Rats Vice President Dale Bauer said. “There’s certainly still a lot out here. We’ll keep on working on it and hope people stop bringing their sofas and other debris that could just as easily have been taken to the dump. We hope people will enjoy the desert for what it is!”

Volunteers, including several from the St. George Jeepers, filled a 30-cubic-yard dumpster provided by the Bureau of Land Management and gathered an additional pile of pallets, appliances and wood debris that would not fit in the dumpster, Sanders said.

A welcome and exciting find, a desert tortoise was seen sunning itself near its burrow. The tortoise is protected under the Endangered Species Act; it is illegal to take them from the wild and keep them as pets or otherwise disturb them.

A desert tortoise rests in the sun near a cleanup project Saturday, St. George, Utah, April 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

In addition to cleaning up litter, the groups aim to actively assist SITLA with its property stewardship, Sanders said.

Unlike public lands, school trust lands are held in trust to support 12 state institutions, primarily public schools but also state hospitals, teaching colleges and universities. While 67 percent of Utah is held in public domain, only about 6 percent of the state’s acreage is set aside as trust lands.

When Utah became a state, Sanders said, Congress granted the land to the state and created permanent endowments to support the institutions.

SITLA manages Utah’s 3.4 million acres of trust land on behalf of its beneficiaries, generating revenue through oil, gas and mineral leases; rent and royalties; real estate development and sales; and surface estate sales, leases and easements.

Read more: Record SITLA earnings benefit local schools

Volunteers rearrange and stomp debris in a dumpster while others clean a burn pile during a cleanup project west of Navajo Drive in Bloomington area of St. George Saturday, St. George, Utah, April 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

The Desert Rats and the Utah Public Lands Association are both 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations committed to keeping public lands public and accessible to all, including the disabled.

Of the four desert cleanups the Desert Rats conducts each year, a traditional cleanup is held on National Public Lands Day in September in the Sand Mountain off-highway vehicle area in Hurricane. Previous cleanup projects have been located on BLM-managed land in both Utah and Arizona.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

8 Comments

  • Utahguns April 2, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Kudos to the Desert RATS group.
    You do care about the environment. Goes to show that you have class and dedication.

  • Not_So_Much April 3, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Impressive Desert RATS! Shooters should know there is a large shooting park out past the county fairgrounds. It’s a great place for safe shooting of all types.

  • Law24 April 3, 2017 at 8:48 am

    I go shooting in this area regularly. I always pack out my trash, including my shot shells. I make sure to fill my trash bags with any other items I can after I’ve cleaned up my own mess. It would be nice if there was some more advertisement for this. I’m sure a lot more people would have turned out to help – I would have shown up.

  • Caveat_Emptor April 3, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Thanks to the folks who gave up their day, and used their own vehicles, to perform this clean-up. When riding the Bearclaw Poppy Trail system you seldom see any junk within the fence, but trash had been readily visible on the other side.

    BTW – You have to hope that someone from DNR will find that tortoise, and relocate it to a safer location within RCDR.

  • sagemoon April 3, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Awesome! I was starting to think I was the only person who cleaned up after myself (and others) while recreating in the desert.

  • Kimi April 4, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Best story I’ve ever read on this site. When I moved here in 2014 I was out removing trash & debris on Telegraph, hoping to “start a movement” and get people organized in such an endevour. Such a worthy effort & time well-spent. We all need to do more.

  • utahdiablo April 4, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Great work Desert Rats….looks like a great place to build a 1,000 homes Sitla, yeah keep building, we can make this southern California ASAP!

  • mctrialsguy February 15, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Good job. It’s not the shooters for the most part, maybe a few idiots, and I ride dirt bikes and shoot and we always take out our trash and others as well. It’s the Hispanic construction workers that dump their trash out there. Go to California and Arizona and you’ll see the same all over.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.