View Full Version : AZVJC in the news

10-14-2006, 07:40 AM
Saw this article in the news. AZVJC is mentioned at the bottom.
Volunteers key in helping to counter desert dumpers

Shaun McKinnon and Corinne Purtill
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 14, 2006 12:00 AM

The burned hulks of two abandoned motorhomes would never fit in the dumpster. That much was clear to volunteers cleaning up near a popular hiking area outside Cottonwood.

So, they improvised. Someone fetched a power saw and, in a cloud of metallic dust, cut the wrecks down to size and hauled them off to be recycled.

"Every time it happens, I'm excited and amazed and grateful that people care so much," said Diane Joens, co-chairwoman of the volunteer group Stewards of Public Lands. "We find once an area is cleaned up, it's likely to stay that way. People start taking pride in a place when it's clean."

Although cities or counties can pay to remove illegally dumped trash from government-owned land, lack of resources usually means that the dirty job is left to residents. Clubs and other community groups dispatch volunteers to find such sites and help clean them up, sometimes on their own, other times working with local or federal agencies.

In many cases, without the volunteers, the trash would rot where it landed.

"(Our) resources are pretty stretched. The volunteer program has been one of the best tools that we have," said Christine Tincher, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management.

Illegally dumped trash is polluting Arizona's preserves, washes and riverbeds. Junk abandoned in the desert contaminates groundwater, increases fire risk and endangers hikers and other land users. Though fines can range from $2,000 to $100,000, plus prison time, offenders are hard to track down.

To help clean up the problem, Joens' group found willing partners with Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Cornville and Yavapai County. Cottonwood Police Chief Pat Haynie is one of Joens' most dedicated workers, pitching in to pick up trash on the weekend and working to track down offending dumpers during the week.

"We have had wonderful response here," said Joens, who contacted The Arizona Republic this week about its "Desert Dumping" investigation. "Everybody wants to put a dent in this horrible problem throughout the entire state."

She said the volunteers want to protect the local resources. "What we've found is once we clean up an area, people will want to hike there again. They feel safer. It continues to anger us how people can do this, how can they not take pride in this beautiful land we live in."

One reason the stewards group has been successful, she said, is because they involve law enforcement agencies, who work to identify dumpers where possible.

The BLM has a hotline that people can call to report illegal dumping on federal land to law enforcement. Claire Miller, Scottsdale's manager for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, said she refers complaints about illegal dumping to police if witnesses saw the offense or if evidence points to a culprit. Scottsdale police are creating a park and preserve unit that will patrol the area for dumping and other illegal activity.

"(Otherwise) we shift gears and focus on what do we do to get things cleaned up," Miller said. "Generally, it's me and volunteers. There are some city crews that can go out and help, but sometimes, it's easier to round up volunteers."

The most active volunteers are often people who use land for recreational purposes.

The Good Gun Foundation, a pro-firearms group, works regularly with the BLM on cleanups. The volunteer coalition Hunters Who Care picks up trash twice a year at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. The Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition and the Arizona Virtual Jeep Club also organize cleanups on public lands.

The last two groups will team up next month for a project at the Table Mesa Recreation Area just north of the Valley. They will work with the BLM, which oversees the area.

"We work very hard as 4x4 recreationists to dispel the myths that we are the ones causing the problem," said Jack Hickman, a member of the off-road coalition.

10-14-2006, 11:08 AM
Nice to see it. Now if they had a pic or two of the stuff the guys have hauled out (Like the Explorer) I think that would have made a bit more of a statement, although the mental image of someone sawing up an RV is pretty cool :p

10-14-2006, 11:45 AM
Nice, I wonder if our name mentioned has anything to do with the E-Mails that we had sent to Shaun McKinnon. The emails were more or less invites to the upcoming area clean-ups.

;) Good Post "highjeeps". It's nice to see the Land Use part of the fourm getting the attention it deserves :)

10-14-2006, 08:18 PM
That is cool. So nice to read that.

10-17-2006, 04:57 PM
Ah, good to see that Shaun used one of my better quotes while we were talking and also that he was able to give mention to the club and the coalition. When I spoke with Shaun about this and the TM cleanup he was very interested in hearing our side of the story and also seeing what it is we do to help the cause. He is the water and environmental reporter for the Republic. I stressed to him that it was the general populus of our club and member clubs that contribute hundreds of hours of volunteer time on a yearly basis for these types of operations. If we can get and keep these guys on our side that will be a big bump for building the public sentiment we always talk about.

Thanks Highjeeps for posting that up. I had gotten a couple phone calls about being quoted in the article, but was out of town and didn't get to see it til later. Now lets get that TM cleanup to be the biggest we have had yet.