Agencies, volunteers collect more than 750 pounds of trash near Mesilla Dam

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Multiple public land-user groups gathered Saturday, June 18 to clean up areas with a high amount of illegal dumping and off-highway vehicle (OHV) use.

Staff and volunteers from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Throat Punch Performance SXS (a Las Cruces company that upgrades and repairs all brands of UTVs) cleaned areas west of Mesilla Dam.

More than 750 pounds of trash were gathered, including mattresses, box springs, aluminum cans, glass and yard debris.

“Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks were excited to help clean up our public lands with our valued agency partners and community members,” said the organization’s executive director, Patrick Nolan. “We look forward to more events like this and future collaborations with the OHV community as we work to educate on responsible usage on public lands.”

The area that was cleaned up is heavily utilized for recreation by local hikers, OHV users and those looking for a break from city streets. With the increased use of public lands, an increase in illegally dumped trash has become an issue for land management agencies.

“The majority of OHV users are responsible. They leave very little evidence that they were there, but when a small percentage leaves trash and drive where they want, it ruins natural resources and paints a negative image of responsible users,” said NMDGF OHV Program Law Enforcement Coordinator Desi Ortiz. “Saturday’s event was a collaborative effort that demonstrates what can happen when all users of public land work together.”

BLM rangers and NMDGF conservation officers are increasing patrols in the area and monitoring for illegal dumping, OHV violations and unlawful hunting activity. If you observe illegal activity, contact Operation Game Thief online (https://onlinesales.wildlife.state.nm.us/public/ogt) or by calling 1-800-432-4263. You can report anonymously.

Visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us/ohv/ohv-education.