ST. GEORGE – Despite cold and windy conditions and mud that stuck to everyone’s shoes, 112 volunteers showed up in two Warner Valley locations to help clean up public lands Saturday.
Volunteers picked up “enormous amounts” of target-shooting trash from the area, including pallets, lumber, glass and plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, lawn debris, shotgun shells and spent cartridges, Bureau of Land Management Recreation Planner Dave Kiel said.
“In addition, they removed many large remnants of illegal dumping, including mattresses, tires, bicycles, furniture, appliances, carpeting, and automobile parts,” he said.
Volunteers cleaned up a location about 2 miles northwest of the St. George Regional Airport and an area near Sky Ranch in Hurricane.
Kiel was impressed by the effort and dedication displayed by the volunteers; after only three hours of work two dumpsters were filled and the surrounding landscape looked much better than before.
“This was a wonderful effort by a dedicated group of volunteers, and on a wet and rainy weekend, no less,” he said.
“That kind of public involvement sends a positive message that people really care about their public lands.”
Dumping on public lands is a big problem, BLM Law Enforcement Ranger Curtis Racker said in an earlier interview, and BLM staff spends a lot of time chasing down those responsible for illegal dumping.
While the BLM has regular patrols, there are no dedicated cleanup staffers. Rangers will pick up what they can when they see it, but that is often not enough.
Trash tends to attract more trash, Racker said, so getting it cleaned up quickly is important. The BLM also needs all the help it can get to track down illegal dumpers.
If a resident sees someone who appears to be dumping illegally, he said, they should write down the license plate number and vehicle description and call 435-627-4300 – the nonemergency contact number for all Washington County agencies. An officer will investigate the situation.
The penalty for illegal dumping is “not enough,” Racker said, although he prefers to work with people. A simple ticket is $250 or more and offenders can also be charged with a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Saturday’s cleanup event was organized by Kiel through JustServe.org, an online service that matches up organizations that need help with volunteers that want to serve. Kiel is a big believer in the service.
“Volunteer projects can be difficult to organize. The website allows me to put all the details out there, while simultaneously allowing individuals or groups to sign up online,” Kiel said. “For those of us who work with a lot of volunteers, it improves our efficiency immensely.”
According to information on JustServe.org, the website is provided as a service by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and connects volunteers with faith, nonprofit, community and governmental organizations. As of Wednesday morning, the site listed 85 opportunities to serve in the St. George area.
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