Cleaning up

Local environmental nonprofit celebrates 25 years

This illegal dump site was later cleaned up in last year’s KTMB Great Community Clean-up.

This illegal dump site was later cleaned up in last year’s KTMB Great Community Clean-up.

PHOTO/Sage leehey

To learn how to recycle various items in the area, see Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful's recycling guide:

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful has been cleaning up trash, removing invasive weeds, and improving the overall quality of outdoor spaces in the Truckee Meadows for a quarter century this year, and they’ve got no intention of quitting anytime soon.

Saturday, Oct. 25, was Make a Difference Day—the nation’s largest community service day—and it’s annually one of KTMB’s larger volunteer events. This year, KTMB had over 200 volunteers remove about a ton of trash, and seven tons of weeds in six parks located throughout Washoe County. Volunteers also restored trails, cleaned a beach and pruned trees, among other tasks.

In previous years, KTMB’s cleanups have focused more on trash pick up, but the current drought has altered their focus slightly.

“Of course, volunteers were still picking up trash, but our concentration this year has been on removing weeds,” said KTMB communications manager J Merriman. “With the Truckee River so low, water quality has been an important issue, and weeds have a detrimental effect on water quality.”

In celebration of their 25 years, KTMB launched a campaign called #25for25. They’re asking volunteers and community members to ask 25 friends to donate $25 to the organization, and they hosted 25 events throughout the year. They also celebrated with their 25th Anniversary Silver Celebration at Great Basin Taps & Tanks Wednesday evening.

KTMB also hosts clean-ups of illegal dump sites and combats illegal dumping in the area with education projects throughout the year. This year, they were able to expand their Adopt-A-Spot program to help with this. The Adopt-A-Spot program allows businesses and other groups to “adopt” an area to keep clean. Previously, this program was available mainly for park and roadway areas.

“For years, we’ve had some key volunteers who really wanted to adopt open space areas so they could have some sort of formal stewardship for those recreation areas they dearly love,” Merriman said. “This year, with help from our municipality and agency partners like the BLM [Bureau of Land Management], that became a reality.”

And in the next year, KTMB plans to expand this program to river spots.

“The river has always been a KTMB focus, but our next big projects will be aimed at creating a multi-jurisdictional plan for the river, bringing together all the municipalities, agencies and organizations with the means to keep the river clean and healthy for our community,” Merriman said. “Including river areas in our Adopt-A-Spot program will really allow businesses and organizations to get hands-on in maintaining this vital community resource, and raise awareness about the issues we face at the same time.”

In the education category, KTMB is adding a river unit to their Waste Warriors curriculum used in area schools.

“We’re really excited to be working on educating all facets of our community about the importance of river health, as well as doing the clean-ups,” Merriman said. “Clean-ups are wonderful, but our goal going forward is to make those clean-ups unnecessary because no one’s letting their trash escape or dumping because they know the hazards and alternatives.”