I never would have felt strongly about volunteering for the Sunrise Trailhead Clean Up if I had not taken my dog for a bike ride on the Flamingo Arroyo Trail. It was confusing. The trail is amazing. It is away from traffic and surrounded by stunning views of mountains, dry desert landscapes and the Las Vegas Strip. It parallels a wash and passes by a solar panel field. There is something intriguing along every mile of the trail.
In contrast, the trail is marred with graffiti, trash and other forms of human inflicted ruination. The Sunrise Trailhead, a large access point to the Flamingo Arroyo Trail, is seriously abused as well. The first time I had been there I wasn’t sure if I had made it to the right place. It looked closed down and unsafe.
So I knew I had to come back to help clean the area up, but it is not that simple. This place is being purposefully destroyed.
It was difficult to pick up the trash knowing that by nightfall it would likely be visited by the same people with the same glass bottles, wooden palettes to burn, nails, and trash to throw around the place and destroy everything. I wish there was a way to close off the area, but I suppose the people damaging it would just find another location to wreak havoc. I wish people weren’t in situations that allowed them to feel okay about this type of ruinous recreation.
At the end of the clean up, we each shared a word to sum up our volunteer experience. Many described themselves as disappointed. Others focused on the efforts of the group – collaborative, teamwork, enjoyable, problem solving…
For more information about volunteer opportunities in Southern Nevada, visit Get Outdoors Nevada.