operation clean up wagon wheel

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There’s a climbing area east of us, toward Death Valley, that A. likes to frequent. He slips out of bed at 6 a.m. to be at the rocks as the sun rises and warms him. When he returns, he’s often giddy from fresh air, beautiful views and exercise.

There’s only one problem: It’s also the world capital for dirt bikers (at least it feels that way) who arrive in masses in RVs (I never knew about dirt biking till I moved here? I think I grew up in a cave?). So the rock outcroppings are littered with nails and green and purple and clear glass shards from rowdy parties around fire pits. The trash not only detracts from the area’s beauty, but it also makes it hard to let C. roam.

So A. has decided to clean it up. At first he was filling up one large empty Fage yogurt carton at a time, but now he takes a much bigger box every time he goes. He also bought a giant magnet to drag along the dirt and pick up the nails in bulk. (Below is one quick sweep.) He brings home the debris and wraps it up so it’s safe for our trash collectors to take away.

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On the weekends, I join him. It’s a daunting project, but the theory is much like the broken window theory: if there are no broken bottles or glass, new visitors won’t think to smash or shoot their beer bottles. You laugh, but we really hope it will work, especially because some of these glass shards are so smooth and weathered, we think they’ve been here for decades.

Here’s to making our beautiful public land pristine once again.

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