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Talking Trash . . . and Teamwork
Reclamation's Lower Colorado Region Resources Management Group
leads by example in protecting, preserving public lands

By Colleen Dwyer, Public Affairs Specialist

From left to right, Realty Specialists Jason Kirby and Brandon Barrow, and Archaeologist Jim Kangas flex their muscles with heavy construction debris.  On Friday, April 12, 2013, approximately 25 individuals from the Lower Colorado Region’s Resources Management Group (based in Boulder City, Nevada) united to beautify a portion of Reclamation’s lands just outside of Las Vegas.  In between a variety of team-building activities, this motivated group filled a 30 cubic-yard dumpster with trash, construction waste, and landscape debris in about 90 minutes.  And although there was no measured tonnage value of the contents from the clean-up, this size dumpster can hold up to 10 tons of litter, demonstrating the dramatic results that a small group of motivated volunteers can generate.

“Efforts like this always leave me feeling satisfied with my work,” remarked Realty Specialist Brandon Barrow, coordinator of the activity. “Acting as stewards over the land that helped bring water to Las Vegas is a big responsibility.

“We organize several clean-ups a year on Reclamation lands, and it is always rewarding to leave a place better than when you found it,” Barrow observed.  “I also think it is important that the public see us working on their behalf, and this was a great opportunity to do just that.”

Natural Resources Specialist Jessie Stegmeier ignores the sweeping view of the Vegas Valley behind her as she hauls away an armful of trash.Located near the River Mountains Loop Trail’s Equestrian Trailhead in east Henderson, the targeted patch of land is bounded by two paved roads and a dirt roadway that joins the two.  Unfortunately, because of its easy access and location on the outskirts of housing developments, this Reclamation land has become a notorious dumping ground for all kinds of trash.  Ranging from heavy construction rubble to those pesky plastic bags that travel on the slightest breeze, the debris was easy to see but sometimes difficult to gather.

Heavy bags and buckets were filled with trash from about 5 acres of land, with several trips made to and from the dumpster.  Participants also remained sensitive to the desert creatures who integrated garbage into their homes, leaving some in place if a lizard appeared to be enjoying the makeshift shade structure created by a disintegrating magazine or soup can.

In addition to a few close encounters with the desert natives, the group also enjoyed Mother Nature’s show of blooming plants ranging from the yellow flowers of the hardy creosote to the red, pink and yellow spines of a small barrel cactus, and vibrant fuchsia flowers of beavertail cacti.

From here, the full dumpster made its way to Apex, the largest landfill in the U.S. located about an hour north of Las Vegas.  At 2,200 acres, it has enough room to keep pulling in waste for about 200 years. Everyone is hopeful there will be less desert trash making its way to that final destination in the future, thanks to these inspired volunteers demonstrating the great difference that a small group can make in respecting our public lands.

The Lower Colorado Region Resources Management Group take a break from the cleanup to pose for a group photo.

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Updated: April 2013