ST. GEORGE – The first official “Give Your Land a Hand” public lands cleanup held Saturday and sponsored by Washington County was a great success, attracting 50-60 volunteers to an area near the Bear Claw Poppy trailhead.
The public land cleanup campaign, announced by county officials in November, aims to raise awareness and participation and encourage residents to not only clean up after themselves but also to pick up any trash they come across while using public lands.
Saturday’s event was the first organized Give your Land a Hand event, and it was very productive, Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson told the county commission Tuesday at a regular meeting.
In spite of the fact that the area west of Bloomington has been the site of two recent cleanup events, there was plenty of trash left for the event, Iverson said, adding that he was previously concerned about being able to fill up a dumpster.
“Within three hours we had that puppy full of all kinds of TVs and computers and glass and you know, just all kinds of things that don’t belong on our public lands,” Iverson said.
The area is heavily used by recreational shooters, mountain bikers and off-roaders and is often littered with burn piles and shooting debris, including electronics.
Volunteers at the event included moms, kids, Boy Scouts and members of the local off-road group Desert Roads and Trails Society, Iverson said.
“They had their own Jeeps driving all over the countryside, bringing in stuff and dumping it out,” he said. “It was great.”
Volunteers at the event reported five desert tortoise sightings during the cleanup, including one found by Iverson.
“In his little tortoise way, he said ‘thank you’ for, you know, taking care of the garbage,” Iverson said with a chuckle.
Kent Page, a resource specialist with State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, was in attendance at the commission meeting.
“As part of SITLA, I would just like to thank the community for cleaning up that property,” Page said. “It’s very much appreciated.”
The area near the Bear Claw Poppy trailhead was the site of a cleanup April 1 by the Desert Roads and Trails Society. On that day, volunteers filled a 30-cubic-yard dumpster and gathered an additional pile of pallets, appliances and wood debris that would not fit in the dumpster.
“All of us connected with Give Your Land a Hand want to thank everyone who came out for this kick off clean up event,” Washington County Public Lands Clean Up committee chairman Rev. Jimi Kestin said.
“With all the volunteers who came out and support from Republic Services we made a real difference on Saturday,” he said, “and we look forward to continuing to work together with all those who care about our public lands and want to see them looking clean and accessible for all our community to enjoy.”
The website offers information about getting involved, an email list sign-up and instructions for properly disposing of garbage, used oil and yard trimmings.
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