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Sprucing up the Mesa

Local groups join together to clean up Hubbard Mesa in an effort to educate the community

rifle citizen telegram graphic

The novel coronavirus pandemic altered event plans for the annual cleanup at Hubbard Mesa this year. Organizers from Hi Country 4 Wheelers, Rifle Are Mountain Bike Organization, and White River Trail Runners ATV/UTV Club didn’t let that deter them from joining together, using proper social distancing, to make the Mesa cleaner and safer for the public to enjoy this summer.

The cleanup, which dates back to the early 2000s when members of the Hi Country 4 Wheelers decided to help the BLM out, and clear debris from the popular public land on the edge of Rifle.

“Unfortunately our government entities can only do so much, and being that it is public land, we as a jeep club believe public lands belong to public people and therefore we strive to get our efforts out there, no matter where we are,” Hi Country 4 Wheelers President Jennifer Isenhart said.

Isenhart said they were told in April that the BLM had to step back from the event due to the COVID-19 restrictions affecting the county and state.

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Generally a big event, the cleanup always included a large gathering and raffle for members of the clubs and volunteers that participated.

“We decided to go back to the very basics, we had a fabulous person donate a dumpster — Shawn Parsons of Native Waste Solutions — and we put a sign on the dumpster that said three things,” Isenhart said. “No tires in the dumpster, be mindful of what you pick up, and the COVID-19 restrictions.”

The groups were able to nearly fill the 40-yard dumpster and Garfield County Landfill waived the dumping fees for the cleanup.

“It’s public land and I think it’s not an uncommon concern for public lands, I feel like the BLM kind of has their hands tied. They do what they can to manage it, but ultimately it is left up to all these user groups to try and get together, and be good examples and take care of the land,” RAMBO Vice President Alison Birkenfeld said.

Birkenfeld said everyone practiced social distancing, and every individual group spent nearly 8 hours cleaning hot spots of where people have dumped garbage, left behind shell casing, and also campsites left behind by squatters.

Both Isenhart and Birkenfeld agree that there needs to be more education, but it needs to be consistent to help enlighten people to how important it is to keep public lands clean.

“I wish we had a thousand members and we could hit every trail and make them all perfect,’’ Isenhart said. “It’s (Hubbard Mesa) completely unique and special in that way, and that is also one of the reasons we feel it is so important to keep it clean.”

kmills@postindependent.com


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