GYLAH, Desert RATS, and UPLA clean up LaVerkin’s Valley Gun Range
A front-end loader brings in a load of debris at LaVerkin’s Valley Gun Range, photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society

A cooperative effort by the Give Your Lands a Hand, or GYLAH, committee filled a 30-cubic-yard dumpster to capacity Nov. 18. GYLAH worked alongside Desert Roads and Trails Society, or Desert RATS; the Utah Public Lands Alliance, or UPLA; and Republic Services. The effort was sponsored by Washington County. The cleanup project was undertaken at the Valley Gun Club shooting range in LaVerkin. Republic Services donated and delivered the dumpster. A local LaVerkin resident, upon witnessing the project, borrowed his employer’s front-end loader and was reportedly a huge asset to the effort.

“I started working with the Give Your Lands a Hand Campaign in February of 2017,” said Sarah Thomas, a member of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and the GYLAH committee. “In the amount of time I have worked for GYLAH, we have scheduled four successful cleanups and each time we’ve filled 30-yard dumpsters to capacity or more. We’ve been really lucky to work with Republic Waste and also with Desert RATS, whom we are partnering with. Our first cleanup was in Bloomington, the second was Confluence Park, and third Santa Clara River Reserve. The fourth here today is at the Valley Gun Range.”

“A big component of the GYLAH program is actually getting on the ground and cleaning up trash,” Thomas said. “Another really big component is creating community partnerships. We’re hoping to create more and more ties with the county and user groups like the Desert RATS. The third big component is that we are hoping to undertake an education program so that we can let people know how great the Washington County landfill is and how residents can get rid of their trash there for free. Around the country, this is pretty unusual. That’s the next big push, educating people that they don’t have to dump on the land because we have a great dump to take things to.”

“UPLA is here helping cleaning up the dump at LaVerkin off Nephi Twist Trail,” said Gil Meachan, president of the Utah Public Lands Alliance. “The Nephi Twist Trail is one of the trails where we do four-by-four off-roading. We want to help the county out, too. So we’ve found lots of stuff out there. We have a 30-yard dumpster that’s full. We could have probably fill three or four more. It’s daunting, but we’ll keep plugging away. We’d like to see more people come out here with their kids and their guns and enjoy shooting, and take home everything that they brought out.”

“The Desert RATS group tries to conduct or participate in at least four desert cleanups per year, both in Utah and Arizona,” said Bud Sanders, a board member of the Desert RATS. “We’re pleased to partner with Washington County and GYLAH to clean up our public lands in Washington County. Most of our cleanups are on BLM lands and we’ve had great cooperation from them in both Utah and Arizona. Earlier this year we cooperated with GYLAH and cleaned up a parcel of state SITLA land in Bloomington. Most of the worst, trashiest areas are where unorganized shooting occurs, so we’re attempting to find a way to change the shooting culture for them to pick up all their shooting residue before they leave.”

The Desert Rats and the Utah Public Lands Association are both 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations committed to keeping public lands public and accessible to all, including the disabled.

Of the four cleanups the Desert RATS conducts each year, a traditional cleanup is held on National Public Lands Day in September in the Sand Mountain off-highway vehicle area in Hurricane.

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