Cleaning Up The Desert


Active Member
Alright I'm doing another class research/proposal paper. This time its on cleaning up the desert.

The plan is to get just about everyone envoled in this. Well just about everyone. As you know the desert is a great place to race and a bad place to dump trash. This proposal is on to cleaning up the trash and making new trails to replace the old trails. Reason for new trails is to let the old ones recorporate. Its like what the do on the mountain trails. Take down or close off the old ones and make new ones that won't hurt the mountain that much. See what I'm trying to get at?

The desert will be kept open. It does need some cleaning up and mending to. So I would like your opions on this topic. The more information the better.



Well-Known Member
how are you goin to make new trails? And you do know that there are differejt anual cleanups right?

"Those who risk nothing, are nothing."


Well-Known Member
Join us for our Third Annual Operation Clean Desert October 19, 2002 - at Stoddard Valley OHV area, we clean the desert twice each year at Barstow and there are clean ups all the time in other locations. For more information check the news section and I'll repost the press release here.

As for the closing of old trails - that is a touchy subject as they are currently doing an inventory of all trails in the Cal Desert just to determine which ones they will keep open, They are even trying to say all trails are closed unless signed open. The OHV community has been fighting very hard just to keep the few left that they will let us have, and making new trails to let the others rehabilitate ? Great idea it's been tried and shot down already - so though your idea is good in theory and may make sense, remember it's a very complicated subject and you are also dealing with several governement agencies - where the problem generally begins anyways. When they close an area or trail, they typically just close it - they don't open other areas to allow for recreation. I say typical because there are rare instances when they will swap out one area for another.

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>


Krittro Campbell
New trails would be a problem because BLM has already spent the time and money to mark out courses which is where most of the wear is at. The thing that would help reduce erosion and wear would be to open more land so that we are not using the same acreage year after year...actually it seems like less and less acreage we get to actually use.

As for the cleanup, several clubs and groups do cleanups in the desert and various places every so often. I helped out in last years clean up and I thought it was well run and worth my time. I know my Dad's 4WD club would do several a year ranging from Moab down to Glamis (ASA cleanup) and all places in between. The thing about desert trash (not referring to people) is that it is brought in by locals and dumped. People dont bring broken refrigerators and stoves from far away out to the desert to prerun, locals bring them out because they are too cheap to pay and have them dumped. A good fix for that wuold be free open dump one or two days a week. More BLM out on the weekends giving out trash bags and writing tickets for thrashed camps that look like they are going to stay that way. I know from my experience that if we dont have trash bags we jsut load up a truck bed and then sometimes a few things will blow out, but that few things when a lot of people are doing it adds up to a lot of things and could easily be solved by BLM being out there. Glamis/Ocotillo is a whole different beast, the trash left behind is from a bunch of non respecting punkass kids (some are adults but act like kids) having a good time on everybody elses buck, going and drinking and leaving there I failed spelling behind because mom will get mad if they come home with empty beer bottles...yes bottles. Bottles are for when you are at the house, but camping at the desert or river or beach...use CANS and CANS only or plastic for the hard stuff. Broken glass sucks anywhere you go, so why bring it to places of recreation especiallyt that have sand. It's hard to believe out of all the trashed camps I ahve seen that there is not one person in the camp that has enough respect to clean the crap up. I think Glamis has to be the worst, but soon the desert will be that way if tehy keep taking away mroe and more dunes.

Sorry to go on a tangent here...I hate trash in the desert.

Post the paper when you are done. For some good pictures and comments you should attend OCD3 in October.



Well-Known Member
Well – if you are only asking for opinions. .
To simplify: The desert environment is unique in the aspect that the terrain is fully exposed and victim to extreme short-term effects of erosion – be it wind, or rain, or the intense effects of dramatic temperature variations. Eventually, erosion will restore the effects humans have had on the desert, but these same forces also tend to scatter trash and refuse across large areas. In the desert erosion works very slowly and it takes decades to hide scars caused by humanity.
While hiking, or off-roading throughout the Panamint mountains, Newberry mountains, Calico mountain, Hinkly, and Amboy areas, and through some desert ranges that have no name – it is incredible to see mans influence in the most desolate areas of the desert. Prospecting, mining claims, small towns built on the dreams of striking it rich, abandoned – leaving weathered concrete and rock structures and waste dumps. Forgotten roads are still clearly visible outside of the desert washes.
Critical issue: Many remote areas in the desert have no provisions for trash removal and disposal, and if it is provided it comes with a fee. This makes it attractive for some of the local population to dump trash in nearby washes or at the sides of roads. Winds then carry trash over very long distances, and eventually are filtered by the branches of sage and creosote bushes. When the rare flash floods occurs some of the trash is buried (which later can resurface) and the remaining is scattered down the washes.
Another issue is the thoroughfare roads, especially freeways, where the tremendous amounts of people driving to or from Las Vegas or Phoenix or any other major city. This contributes to large amounts of trash in the deserts. It is amazing how much fast food trash is found along the entire distance of freeways between cities.
Another area of concern are the shooting ranges. There is still a “culture” out there that brings items to shoot at, then leaves it all behind. Although limited - it is unattractive and pictures find there way into environmentalists magazines.
As far as desert roads – especially those used for racing, they will not rejuvenate any time soon, except maybe where the road goes along desert washes - then all it takes is one good flash flood. It has not made any sense to me why decisions are made to continue to close access roads throughout the desert when the overall demand increases. All it is accomplishing is concentrating the number of people in smaller areas thus increasing the impact on open areas. The result opens the doors for more closures. I think there would be less impact and long-term damage if there were an education campaign for public land users – including green sticker users and reopen the public areas. Just an idea - perhaps you can come up with a solution to that one!
People that use the desert for recreation - I feel there has been positive results over the years. At desert races you’ll find the pit areas relatively free of trash. I have found more problems with trash being left by day users or race spectators coming out to watch the race. Most race teams pick-up after these people. There are many trash pick-ups throughout the year and desert racing teams and off-roaders are a large part of the people that contribute their time.
Gotta go!