August 6, 2022 – USA: The Nomad Overland Virtual Adventure Rally encourages Teams to get involved with Stewardship Projects and Trail Cleanups as part of the event. In fact Teams can earn points for up to three Stewardship Activities during the ten weeks of the Rally. It’s been great to see so many of the Teams taking part in organized Stewardship projects or just cleaning up trash on the trails.
Starting in Week Two of the Rally, Nomad Teams were out cleaning up trails in Colorado and Arizona. Team 111 Potter, was one of the first teams to submit Stewardship points following an organized Clean Up near Idaho Springs in the Clear Creek Ranger District. Lisa Potter, and 22 other members of her club, the Colorado 4×4 Girls, picked up a truck-bed and a half of trash in an area they have “adopted” (they typically do three or four cleanups there a year). The group also installed new Fire Restriction signage as a seasonal Fire Ban had just gone into effect. Lisa and the Colorado 4×4 Girls were back in the Clear Creek Ranger District for a second Clean Up in July, this time sponsored by Tread Lightly! and Quadratec. The July Cleanup was a major success and the group included 24 club members as well as four area property owners and two rangers. With such a large turnout they had enough trucks and volunteers to remove the dilapidated ruins of an abandoned RV camper that had spread debris across the trail.
Other Colorado area Teams also joined in the Idaho Springs Clean Ups. Team 131 Becker took part in the Idaho Springs Clean Up in June, where Naomi Becker and the other Colorado 4×4 Girls club members removed over 15 bags of garbage from the hillsides surrounding some popular Jeep trails. Team 114 Simpson and Team 142 Adams both helped with the July Tread Lightly!/Quadratec effort. Danielle Simpson and Thomas Adams worked with the other volunteers to clear the camper debris and trash scattered for hundreds of feet in every direction. In total they removed seven full truckloads of trash.
Meanwhile in Utah, Team 109 Call was getting involved in a major Clean Up effort on BLM land around the Five Mile Pass area in late July. Codi Call and members of several of the region’s offroad clubs got together to clean up five different trails during the project. 80 rigs representing B.O.A.R., Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association, Vernal Rock Rally, RedRock Crawlers, Wenches with Wenches and the Utah DNR all converged on the area to remove “big” trash that included things like convertible couches and other abandoned household items.
While some Teams were participating in organized Clean Ups, others were out picking up trash where ever they saw it on the trails. Team 116 Tembreull did a series of spontaneous clean ups, during their multi-day journey across Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Amber and Dave Tembreull filled three 30-gallon trash bags (one almost entirely with beer cans!), and removed two very heavy pieces of railroad junk and a lot of vehicle “parts”. Team 121 Hentz and Team 117 Lucas both did some small ad hoc trash removal in different areas of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest during the first weeks of the Rally. And Team 132 Kienlen picked up four bags of garbage and some discarded plywood from the OHV area at Ocean Shores Washington during Week Seven.
The Trail Clean Ups, though an important part of Stewardship, were not the only way some Teams got involved in caring for the land. Some Teams engaged in other kinds of Stewardship Activities. Team 136 Anderson participated in three different types of Stewardship Projects during the Rally. The first was in late June, on the Walker Hill section of the Rubicon Trail, where Cheryl Anderson and Wendi Norton of Team 122 helped out the Sierra Treasure Hunters “adopt-a-trail” program. Cheryl and Wendi conducted an “early season” assessment to see how past water mitigation projects are holding up and to determine the need for any new projects in that area. The assessment involved conducting a visual inspection and producing geo-tagged photos of the sites in question.
A few weeks later, Cheryl participated in a river Clean Up sponsored by the American River Parkway Foundation, where she and other volunteers donned their scuba gear and went diving for trash. American River Raft Rentals had donated 15 rafts for the divers, who were tasked with removing unwanted debris from the bottom of the river. For her final Nomad Rally Stewardship Activity, Cheryl volunteered with about thirty other members of the Cal4WD Association to set up logistics for one of the group’s major fundraisers — the annual Sierra Trek. Funds from this event go to support the association’s on-going work to keep our trails open. Cheryl and the other volunteers spent the weekend getting kitchen and bar supplies loaded on trailers, hauled up the mountain and assembled at the event’s staging area near the Fordyce Trail.
Team 104 Swenson volunteered to help with a trail maintenance project at Nisene Marks State Park in Northern California. Sara Swenson and Dave Hopkins joined with other volunteers from the Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, a nonprofit organization that supports the maintenance and improvement of the park, for their monthly trailwork day. This month the group was clearing downed trees from the Mary Easton Picnic area. Sara and Dave helped sawing, raking and carrying the wood — and in the process learned a lot about the difference in weight of logs from different tree speices (from heaviest to lightest: Madrone, Oak, Bay, Redwood).
Team 140 Bower did trail maintenance work on BLM land in the Moab area. Working with the Tread Lightly! team, Charlene Bower helped build a walking path to a Petroglyph site to keep visitors from “busting the crust” (the fragile cryptobiotic soil) in the area nearby. Charlene also conducted a couple of spontaneous Trash Clean Ups around Moab, enlisting some of her trail friends to help — the group were actually pleasantly surprised to find only a few trash bags worth of litter, a sign that the Tread Lightly! message is getting out there, and more people are behaving responsibly.
As the Rally continued more Teams started doing spontaneous clean ups, removing trash from trails across the country and talking about it on Social Media, broadcasting the “Do Your Part” message and setting the example for friends and followers.