This year “spring cleaning” took on a whole new meaning for the BLM Barstow Field Office. Since January, the Barstow Field Office has hosted six cleanups on public land -- most of them organized by user groups that contacted the BLM for support. Almost 1,500 volunteers collected nearly 40 tons of trash in the first quarter of the new year.
On January 27, twenty-five community volunteers cleaned up seven tons of trash. A popular party area, labeled “the pit” by local teenagers, had also become an illegal dump site. Before the cleanup this area was full of debris, weeds, discarded furniture and several hundred tires. The Barstow Field Office partnered with the city of Barstow, who provided four, 40-yard dumpsters and covered the tipping fees. The end result was a spotless site with future access blocked by a post and cable along with a "no dumping" sign to ward off inappropriate use of this scenic mud hill area.
The Calico cleanup on February 17 was spearheaded by Mark Watkins of the Los Angeles Toyota Land Cruiser Association and the Southern California Land Cruiser Club. Mark had contacted Rose Beardshear, the Barstow Field Office volunteer coordinator, about the mounting trash in the Calico Mountain area. What started as a small-scale cleanup with an estimated 50 to 75 volunteers, grew to become the largest single cleanup event on public lands managed by the Barstow Field Office. A total of 740 volunteers collected nearly 13 tons of trash, pulled out five abandoned vehicles, posted signs for two kiosks and installed signs along several miles of trail. In-kind contributions for t-shirts, food and raffle prizes exceeded $30,000. (story continues below)
Daniel and Becky Woodman are busy signing up Giant Rock cleanup volunteers.
On March 10, the Friends of Giant Rock, an OHV group that frequents the Johnson Valley OHV area, hosted another small-scale cleanup. They might have been small in number with 27 attendees, but they were large in dividends, collecting four tons of trash, including one ton of metal for recycling. All supplies and equipment including trucks, trailers and tipping fees were covered by this ambitious, proactive, user group.
The Barstow Field Office spent St. Patrick’s Day supporting the 5th Annual Dumont Dunes cleanup hosted by the Friends of Dumont Dunes. Vicki Warren, club president, recruited hundreds of volunteers who collected five tons of trash. She also secured sponsors to provide all the volunteers with t-shirts and several raffle prizes. Through these ongoing stewardship efforts, the Friends of Dumont Dunes have demonstrated their commitment to work collaboratively toward shared goals for this popular OHV open area.
On March 24, the Barstow Field Office hosted two cleanups on the same day. While the community of Landers banned together to clean up the Giant Rock area on the north end of Landers, wilderness volunteers cleaned up a site to the south in the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness.
Daniel and Becky Woodman, who frequent the Giant Rock area, decided a few years ago to organize an annual clean up to improve their favorite camping spot. This year they recruited 76 volunteers. After the volunteers were done collecting four tons of trash they were treated to a barbecue lunch, compliments of the Rib Company of Yucca Valley. The Woodmans also rounded up trash bags, free dump passes, water and raffle prizes for the volunteers.
Meanwhile the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness cleanup logistics were falling into place. The Barstow Field Office worked with the California Desert District Student Conservation Association (SCA) wilderness team to coordinate the cleanup of this old dismantled cabin site. Half a mile inside the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness, residual refuse littered this otherwise attractive camp site, discouraging visitor use. With the help of a few BLM staff, two SCA crews, 10 volunteers and eight pack mules, this site has been beautifully restored.
Volunteers at the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness area load up debris onto pack mules.
As the BLM faces the growing challenge of accomplishing more work in the field with fewer operating funds, volunteers and partners become even more important. These valuable human resources help the Barstow Field Office keep on top of the increased demands for daily operations and production.
-R. Beardshear, 4/07