GLAMIS — The largest mass of sand dunes in the state got its largest cleanup of the year Saturday.
Between 2,500 to 3,000 people usually volunteer, said United Desert Gateway Program Manager Charla Teeters, who noted that this year there appeared to be less people in the area.
It’s probably the economy and gas prices, said Teeters when asked why fewer people seemed to be out in the dunes this year.
Still, by 8:30 a.m., registration tables were already reporting a shortage of trash bags.
“That’s always a good sign,” Teeters said as she coordinated delivery of extra trash bags.
Meanwhile, David Tapia was walking away with several trash bags to distribute among his group.
“There’s a bunch of us,” said the Indio resident. “Six family members and 12 friends got together just for this event.”
“We got to keep the dunes clean,” the 71-year-old man added as he walked toward his vehicle. He noted that although he was tempted to go to a hot air balloon festival at Lake Havasu City, Ariz., he couldn’t miss the cleanup.
“It’s important for us to keep the dunes clean,” Tapia said.
El Centro resident Francisco Rosales registered shortly after along with his two daughters.
“We come to the desert a lot, so we might as well clean it,” said Rosales noting the cleanup is a good opportunity to spend time with family and teach his daughters to take care of the desert.
Cierra Rosales, 9, agreed with her dad.
“It’s something good for the world so we don’t have so much pollution,” said Cierra.
Although it’s never been recorded how much trash has been gathered during any cleanup, volunteer Don Ford said the cleanup seems to bring a long-term positive impact.
“It’s hard to get trash; it used to be everywhere,” said the Lake Havasu City resident. “(Before), you had to work for it,” he added.
His wife, Shirley, said the same.
“There’s not a lot of trash, even at the campsites,” she said.
Still, trash is found during the cleanups, and Shirley Ford pointed out that sometimes she finds weird trash.
“(We) found a bag of pot once, but we didn’t smoke it; we turned it in,” she said with a laugh.
Francisco Duran, an 11-year-old boy from Indio, also has experience with finding odd objects.
“I found a bottle with pee once,” said Francisco. “I (thought) it was lemonade, but my grandma said it was pee and said put it down.”
Francisco’s grandfather, Willie Palacio, laughed as he heard his grandson’s story and noted that he’s been coming to the sand dunes for 30 years, “and it’s pretty clean, even after holidays.”
“The cleanup is essential and a huge part of (the) awareness,’ said park Ranger Michelle Puckett, who added behavior has improved and people seem to be better stewards of the land.
Staff Writer Alejandro Dávila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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