ST. GEORGE – A new countywide campaign aims to help keep public lands in Washington County beautiful.
The “Give Your Land a Hand” campaign announced Thursday by the Washington County Commission aims to raise awareness and participation. It encourages residents to not only clean up after themselves but also to pick up any garbage they come across in their travels.
“I think we all appreciate where we live, we appreciate our surroundings, we appreciate our public lands, we feel like they’re ours,” County Commissioner Victor Iverson said, “and we need to treat them with respect and take care of them.”
Much of the county is public land. According to Gov. Gary Herbert’s Office of Planning and Budget, in 2011 only 18 percent was privately owned.
The huge expanse of public land is popular with locals and visitors alike for its myriad of recreational activities.
Illegal dumping, shooting debris and trash marring public land in the county is an ongoing problem, with the worst areas generally located close to residential areas. Nails, hardware and other debris accumulates at bonfire sites, in some areas shooting debris mars the vistas.
Cleanups have been organized in the past by organizations such as the Desert Roads and Trails Society as well as Bureau of Land Management staff.
This week, officials launched a new website and Facebook page along with Twitter and Instagram accounts. The website offers information about getting involved, an email list sign-up and instructions for properly disposing of garbage, used oil and yard trimmings.
As the county has grown, officials are seeing more trash and illegal dumping on public lands, especially in areas close to town, Iverson said.
“We have more and more people using public land and camping, recreating,” Iverson said. “More than anything it (the campaign) is just to remind everybody and bring awareness to it.”
The Give Your Land a Hand campaign will have an educational component to raise awareness including signs encouraging people to report illegal dumping and the use of social media to share results and generate enthusiasm.
“Our aim is for this campaign to be an ongoing effort reminding multiple generations of Washington County residents of the importance of maintaining clean and attractive public lands and to help stop illegal dumping,” Iverson said in a statement.
“We believe this is going to be a wonderful tool in engaging folks in this very important subject matter.”
The campaign will include video, social media, radio and television ads along with a 30-second jingle by local Lyndy Butler.
“We’d like to make it fun and enjoyable so people can be proud of what they’re doing,” Iverson said.
Newcomers to the area may not realize that the Washington County Landfill accepts residential garbage for free, Iverson said. “The landfill tries to keep very convenient hours, they’re open six days a week.”
Some might ask: Why doesn’t the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies clean up all the garbage?
“My argument to that is that the BLM land is our land, it’s everybody’s land and the BLM doesn’t really have the resources to go out and pick up trash,” Iverson said.
“From my point of view, if it’s BLM land it really belongs to all the citizens of Washington County and we have a responsibility to take care of it,” Iverson said.
How to help
Residents can contact the county or watch the website for organized cleanup dates.
Groups or individuals who want to organize cleanups in a particular area can contact the county to make sure dumpsters are made available.
Anyone can use the website to nominate an area that needs a cleanup. For more information, contact Washington County by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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