Snowflakes and crisp temperatures failed to dampen the spirits of hundreds of volunteers who joined a public radio-public lands campaign to clean up local recreational and camping areas over the weekend.
Russ von Koch, recreation planner for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, said more than 150 volunteers from out of town joined about 200 local residents, organizers and officials Saturday to pick up trash during "Moab Volunteer Day."The environmental improvement effort was so successful that organizers hope to do it again next year, von Koch said.
Litter along Kane Creek Canyon had been the focus of the project until pre-registration figures came in a week before the cleanup. Julie Howard, BLM archaeologist, said she had expected a dozen to 15 people to turn out for a rock art tour planned in conjunction with the cleanup as part of Utah Archaeology Week.
As it turned out, about 250 people signed up for the tours and cleanup by the weekend, and organizers scrambled to find local volunteers to lead tours in four additional areas.
Bill Kucera, outreach coordinator and an organizer from KUER-FM Radio, said most volunteers were from the Moab and Salt Lake areas but also included several people who had been passing through Moab and joined in on the spur of the moment, like Matthew Buonaguidi of Glendale, Calif.
"I loved it," Buonaguidi said at the free barbecue later. "It was a good opportunity to do some volunteer work. It was a nice booster to get me out and pick up some litter; a good way to get some environmental work done and meet some folks."
Kay Smedley of Bountiful, her daughters, Linda and Angela, and their friend, Arlene Shutt, joined the rock art tour along Mill Creek, picking up peanut shells, a lipstick tube, cigarette butts, campfire remains and lots of broken glass along the way.
"It just makes you more aware of what you need to do - not just cleaning up, but not leaving stuff," said Angela Smedley, 21.
Organizers not only expanded rock art tour sites at the last minute but also added more cleanup areas: U-128 (the river road) and, east of Moab, the Powerhouse Dam site and Mill Creek Canyon, the Slickrock Bike Trail area, a stretch of Sand Flats Road and the area north of the city-county landfill.
Cleanup crews consisted of 10 to 20 people or more, said Dale Backus, assistant district manager for the BLM for lands and renewable resources.