Creating Resilient & Regenerative Mojave Desert Communities

Transition Joshua Tree & Friends Clean Up

group holding "no dumping sign"
Karen Tracy, Doug “Buck” Buckley and Eva Montville pause during their work to display a “No Dumping” sign found at the bottom of a pile of trash picked up in the desert. The day netted eight tons of trash.

Saturday January 18th was another beautiful day in paradise, made more beautiful by the camaraderie of people working together to clean up the roadsides of Joshua Tree. “I woke up thinking, ‘ugh, who wants to pick up trash,’” said Bernard Leibov, a member of the Transition Heart & Soul Team, “but it was so rewarding that I didn’t want to quit. I kept saying that this was my last load, and then I’d find myself on the back of a pickup truck headed out for more.”

A balmy day, meeting new friends and old, and doing something worthwhile as a team made the long day fly by. Transition Joshua Tree members, the Joshua Tree Clean Team, the Morongo Basin Conservation Association’s Clean n’ Green Team and local residents came together to pick up over 8 tons of illegally dumped roadside trash. Sofas, mattresses and tires were the most common items picked up.

unloading truck full of desert trash
Tim DeLorey unloads tires from a volunteer’s truck.

“Our truck decided to specialize in tires,” said Tim Delorey, a member of the Transition Joshua Tree Coordinating Council. “We loaded our truck at least 8 times and completely filled the truck.”

Project leader Buck Buckley worked with Donna Munoz, field rep for Supervisor James Ramos and county employee Greg Rice to get the funds for the project. Two county employees and five Burrtec Waste and Recycling employees were on site to assist and supervise the loading at the dump site on La Ferney & Broadway in Joshua Tree. Buckley coordinated over 35 volunteers with trucks and trailers, and the county provided garbage trucks, compacting trucks, and trailers. “We sorted and repurposed all the rusty metal that we could”, said Buckley, “and some of it will show up as art in local galleries around town.” Artists were invited to haul away found objects and rusty metal for their use.

A thank you to all who participated and to the Radio Free Joshua Tree Listening Lounge for posting maps to the dump site and for hosting an assemblage art show on the day of the event.