Phoenix, Ariz. - On March 1, nearly 250 volunteers braved the rain to help pick up more than 10 tons of trash detracting from the beauty of the popular Table Mesa Recreation Area north of Phoenix. The cleanup project is part of a larger effort to ensure continued access to public lands in Arizona by promoting outdoor ethics. The initiative—Respected Access is Open Access in Arizona—is supported by a coalition of partners including the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Game and Fish Department, US Forest Service and Tread Lightly!, a national nonprofit organization that promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs.
"We had an outstanding turnout, especially considering the rain," said Tom Bickauskas, Natural Resource Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management. "It's a tremendous showing of support for our public lands. Stewardship is everyone's job. When people can contribute in this fashion it will keep public lands open to as many uses as possible."
The volunteers were shooting, hunting and off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and many were affiliated with Discount Tire stores in the Phoenix area.
"We are out here because we care," said Mark MacGuinness, Vice President of Discount Tire Direct. "We're enthusiasts, we're off-roaders, we're shooters, we're hunters, we're fishermen and we care about our access to the outdoors. We care about our public lands. We don't just donate money, we show up."
Outdoor billboards, public service announcements and outreach and education efforts are spreading the important message that Respected Access is Open Access in Arizona.
"The momentum is continuing to build and we're thrilled at the involvement of supporters like Discount Tire and so many responsible outdoor recreationists," said Lori McCullough, executive director of Tread Lightly!. "Engaging the recreational shooting community in addressing these issues is the proactive solution to these problems and we hope all recreational shooters will become ambassadors for this effort."
Another way that Arizona citizens can get involved in the campaign is to take the pledge to ACT responsibly. Go online to openaccessarizona.org and pledge to be a responsible recreationist and sign up for a chance to win a prize. The pledge asks people to be Accountable for their behaviors, Clean up after themselves and Tread Lightly on public lands. Those who pledge will have a chance to win a $100 gift card from a sporting goods store. One winner per month will be drawn.
Sponsors of the Table Mesa cleanup event include local, regional and national organizations:
- ArizonaGame and Fish Department
- Bureau of Land Management
- Tread Lightly!
- Discount Tire
- Arizona Off Highway Vehicle Coalition
- Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society
- Barlow Adventure
- Bass Pro Shops
- Boone and Crockett Club
- Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
- Legendary Guns
- National Rifle Association
- National Shooting Sports Foundation
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Safari Club International
- Sportsman's Warehouse
- White Eyes
- Wildlife for Tomorrow
View BLM produced video about the cleanup here.
Tread Lightly! is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a national nonprofit organization in October 2015. Founded in 1990 as a Memorandum as Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, Tread Lightly! promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs.
Tread Lightly! has more than 70 official partners from various industries and is likely the nation's only nonprofit holding MOUs with every state and federal agency in the U.S. Tread Lightly!'s diverse member base enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities including hunting, angling, camping, boating, biking, four-wheeling and much more. Become a Tread Lightly! partner or member today and start supporting access, education and stewardship at www.treadlightly.org.
BLM Arizona administers 12.2 million surface acres of public lands and another 17.5 million subsurface acres within the state. With offices throughout the state providing on-the-ground management, BLM balances recreational, commercial, scientific and cultural interests; striving for long-term protection of renewable and nonrenewable resources, including range, timber, minerals, recreation, watershed, fish and wildlife, wilderness, wild horses and burros, and natural, scenic, scientific and cultural values.
Arizona Game and Fish Department's mission is to conserve Arizona's diverse wildlife resources and manager for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Guided by a five-member commission and a director, the Department implements rules/policies and takes actions to conserve and manage wildlife; promotes safe responsible engagement in outdoor activities such as hunting, shooting sports, fishing, boating, off-highway vehicle recreation, and wildlife viewing; enforces laws that protect wildlife, public health and safety; provides information and safety education programs; and work in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies, private landowners, sovereign tribes, nongovernmental organizations, and other state and nations. For more information on the Department, visit www.azgfd.gov.