Trashy work

That stuff littering hillsides and canyons needs to come out

This scene of one of the areas to be cleaned up by Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful is in the hillsides southeast of Sparks.

This scene of one of the areas to be cleaned up by Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful is in the hillsides southeast of Sparks.

Photo By David Robert

A few hours of community involvement, from 8:30 a.m. to noon on May 12, can help alleviate a year’s worth of illegal dumping and litter from some local open spaces. Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) began preparing for the second annual Great Truckee Meadows Community Cleanup last August.

“KTMB coordinates the cleanup,” director Christi Cakiroglu says. “But it’s a tremendous collaborative effort.”

Sponsors from the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony to the United States Forest Service to 1-800-Got Junk to Hobey’s Casino support the cleanup. The Army National Guard will assist with helicopters to remove abandoned cars.

KTMB tries to raise awareness of illegal dumping problems and the importance of litter prevention. Illegal dumping creates serious hazards for humans and animals. The group’s Web site offers resources, assisting folks on where to take waste and recyclables for proper disposal.

In last year’s cleanup, more than 500 volunteers picked up 77 tons of trash at 11 sites. This year, 15 sites will receive attention, including Golden Valley, Horizon Hills, West Keystone Canyon, Raleigh Heights, Sun Valley, Hungary Valley, Hidden Valley, Cold Springs, Jumbo Grade, Pyramid Way, Vista Blvd, Eagle Canyon, Wildcreek, Winnemucca Ranch and North Valleys Regional Sports Complex.

Open spaces in the Truckee Meadows rate a 4 on the litter index (according to guidelines from Keep American Beautiful). That’s the worst rating an area can receive, requiring a coordinated effort and heavy equipment for cleanup.

“Word spread of last year’s success,” Cakiroglu says. “It made sponsors want to get involved.” She’s hoping last year’s success will also encourage more volunteers to participate. However, with one week until the cleanup, only half as many volunteers as last year have signed up.

Cleanup begins at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast—doughnuts and coffee at each site.

Items gathered range from paper products to appliances. Cigarette filters are the most littered item. These butts are toxic to the environment and can take five years to break down. Fast-food wrappers are among the most frequently collected items during cleanups, while soda and beer cans follow close behind.

After three hours of caring for Mother Earth on Mother’s Day weekend, KTMB will host an after-cleanup party at Bartley Ranch beginning at noon. Scolari’s prepares the lunch. Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association provides entertainment. New Belgium Brewery pours beer for volunteers 21 and older. Volunteers will receive a tan with green lettering KTMB T-shirt.

KTMB encourages families to participate and parents to bring children. An adult must accompany each child under 12. Young people, ages 12-17, need one adult present for each five volunteers. The organization contends that hands-on experience gives kids knowledge and awareness to become environmentally conscious, making them less likely to litter and more inclined to pick up trash left by others.

Volunteer deadline falls on May 11 at 5 p.m. Log onto and click the Great Truckee Meadows Cleanup or call 851-5185. Folks unable to participate Saturday can find other volunteer opportunities, like planting flowers with KTMB on May 20.