Eating two pies using one fork is a kinder way of saying Killing Two Birds with One Stone and of describing the win-win sensation one experiences while walking slowly and gently upon the earth, removing debris, and enjoying instant results as nature’s beauty shines through. Whether raking out tracks, rebuilding cairns, placing signs, or picking up trash and recycling, a pause to look back while working always brings great satisfaction.
Sara Melnicoff, founder of Moab Solutions, muses about her passion for picking up trash and recycling while making the trails around Moab a pleasure to share.
Twenty-six years ago I stumbled on to my life’s passion. My life partner turned me on to the joys of removing littered trash and recyclables from along the banks of the Animas River in Durango, Colorado and I was hooked, literally! (I picked up a fishing hook and it got me). Since then, I’ve done cleanups from Philadelphia to Brattleboro; Alameda to Chicago, and numerous points in between. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of recycling and landfill-bound items have passed through my hands as they find better places to hang out (or reincarnate) than the streams, trails, byways and highways of our world.
When I first started cleaning up the landscape, I saw things I never saw before and my connection to the natural world began to strengthen. I continually delight in close up views of plant and insect life, wildlife sighting, the gradual coming and going of leaves on the trees, and ice, as it forms and melts in the creek. The warm oranges, rich reds, delicate whites, buttery yellows, and soft purples of the wildflowers, along with the gentle fragrance they leave suspended in the air, are a joy beyond description. I love to experience the changes in the seasons, both the heat of the summer sun and the chill of a winter wind. And the light! It changes constantly as it illuminates the rim, marks the hours, hides behind clouds, dapples through the trees and creates all manner of breathtaking beauty.
Occasionally I stumble upon a precious commodity. Silence. Or the exquisite absence of man-made sounds. Hearing only the wind gently brushing the leaves, water gurgling and flowing over rocks, the wings of the crow, old and ancient as they whip by, is soothing and refreshing to the soul. It is still possible to find this in our modern world, but it’s becoming a rarity. I encourage you to slow your pace and discover the wonders of nature that surround us in this beautiful valley and in the fullness of silence.
Moab is my favorite place, and daily excursions lead me to gorgeous places and spaces, but I’d much prefer finding un-littered terrain than the beer bottles, diapers, fast food containers, plastic bags, cigarette butts, towels, shoes, and t-shirts that are upon the land. As I walk along enjoying what nature has to offer, the clean-up challenge is figuring out how to get squashed beer cans out of a tight crevice just beyond your reach, scrambling over loose rocks to reach a discarded plastic cup, or finding a loose branch to extend your reach under a thorny bush to grab that elusive bit of trash. The area is then beautifully clean and ready to enjoy on the way home. This is the win-win situation for me and the others who follow and enjoy nature. If everyone spent just a few minutes cleaning up and raking out during their preferred outdoor activity, or while enjoying the trails around Moab, we’d win the Cleanest, Most Recycled Town Contest, (if they had one)! Thank you to the many folks who already help with clean up efforts!
The Grand County Trail Mix Committee helps with the effort to maintain trails working with the Bureau of Land Management, (Jennifer Jones) and the Forest Service, (Brian Murdock). In addition, contact Sara Melnicoff, to help with the local Moab clean-up efforts. (See the information about the author below.)
Trail Mix is an advisory committee to Grand County in the development and maintenance of non motorized trails. The committee represents non motorized users including bikers, hikers, trail runners, climbers, equestrians, and skiers. Many government agencies and private citizens make up the “mix” that makes this group work so well. Virtually join us on the 2nd Tues. of each month from 11am-1pm . Everyone is welcome.
Madeline Logowitz is the Grand County Active Transportation and Trails (GCATT) director and works in conjunction with Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to coordinate volunteers who want to do work on non-motorized trails. Madeline can be reached at email@example.com.
If you are interested in the Adopt-A-Canyon program you can contact Sara Melnicoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-259-0910.
The need for volunteers is critical due to recent cutbacks and all help is welcomed.
Author - Sara Melnicoff is the founder of Moab Solutions. www.moab-solutions.org Moab Solutions has more than 20 ongoing hands-on projects including cleanups on Moab’s in-town parkway system, many rural roads, in the streams and canyons, and in the mountains. Moab Solutions promotes the benefits of the “respect, rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle lifestyle” and believes that the healthier the planet is the healthier people will be.
We have recycled this story from Moab Happenings 2010, making minor edits to address passage of time corrections.