More on Forest Cleanups

MSTA and Clean and Safe Volunteers:

Despite the considerable risk of boring all of you to death, I feel compelled, in fairness, to post the exchange that has taken place the last three days between me and Carolyn Napper, District Ranger for the Forest Service, following her request that we cease our forest cleanup efforts.  If it’s too much, just ignore it.



Hi everyone, this morning I had a very good call from Thom Wick to discuss options for continued support by the public on ensuring our forests are well managed. I then followed that conversation up with a long meeting with my staff to look at options for ways to  continue to work with the public yet at the same time follow our necessary protocols.


I don’t want anyone to think that we don’t appreciate the help, enthusiasm, and strong desire by the community to support us in our efforts to ensure that the National Forests are well cared for. I feel that  collectively we can send a strong message to people who may be abusing the National Forest by littering, leaving trailers, placing encampments, etc. So I would like to offer that a possible solution is to help us be our eyes and ears and report trailers, garbage, encampments, fires, etc. WE really do need that support and once we have that information we will have someone go out and check it out. In many cases there can be garbage that we will pick up. Last year we cleaned up over 55 different sites across the unit. Maybe we didn’t get them all but we treated the majority of the ones we know about.


Perhaps what you don’t know is that we do track the sites that are reported and in some cases we have to have trailers tagged or we perform an investigation to identify who may have left the materials. Yes, those reviews may not happen in a day or two, and there have been occasions where it has been months. No one likes that but we still are persistent and we have gotten trailers and areas cleaned up even if it took us a little longer.


So my proposal is to continue to have your help in identifying sites and we will not only track them but once those sites are clear we will organize clean-ups. I will then invite the public to help if we have a large amount of material that the public can safely remove. Not all sites are the same so some sites can be cleaned up much faster than others but I have to ensure both public and employee safety before I can have volunteers helping us. If you all are willing we can try this over the next several months- say until September and see how we do. We can then evaluate where we can improve and what we have to change. As I mentioned to Thom some of the value we have learned from tracking things is we can see patterns and also we can make other management changes which could be a Forest Closure, blocking of roads, barriers, modifying use patterns. We have lots of tools to use and I do want the support of the community and this may be a way for us to work together.


Please understand as an agency we do have processes that we must follow and at this time I am simply asking your support in following those processes. Perhaps since I had been gone for a couple months our communication broke down and our intentions were not clear but believe me we are truly dedicated to our motto of Caring for the Land and Serving the People. Let’s do that together.


Respectfully yours, Carolyn



Thanks for the note, Carolyn.  We would like to work with you.  We just don’t want to lose the interest and momentum we’ve built up over the last 18 months.  There are many people who have become excited about keeping our local area (city, county, and USFS lands) clean.  Many are outraged over the abuse of the land by illegal campers and dumpers, and feel that they are accomplishing something by participating in the cleanups.  I’ve been shocked by the level of interest.


Most everyone knows that the USFS doesn’t always have the resources to keep up with the problem.  Therefore, we remain ready and committed to help when we can.  Please be aware that my post was widely shared yesterday mainly to call off the team that had been preparing to clean up the Everitt Memorial site.


Do you mind if I share your email with the groups with whom I communicate?


John Harch



Hi John, no my intent was to have you share that widely and what I am hoping for is that we can schedule a once a month clean up between my staff and any volunteers. I was more concerned that perhaps people felt we didn’t care which is not true we just have to make sure we follow our process.


I hope that by tracking sites that we can identify on a monthly basis what sites we can clean up and then get that scheduled. I also am working with the County for some other larger clean ups in the Hotlum area and perhaps with some of their equipment we can get that area looking much better. So please share our intent to be vigilant and as we have cleared sites identified we will offer volunteer days/afternoons on roughly a monthly basis. Just encourage folks to report to 926-4511. Much thanks, Carolyn