Originally Published: September 4, 2018 10:12 p.m.
Proving that not all recreational target shooters are irresponsible and leave behind shot-up old television sets, couches and lots and lots of glass bottles, more than 100 volunteers showed up Saturday, Sept. 1, to clean up the Doce Pit recreational area.
The volunteers were not from only the target shooting community, said Nicole Corey, executive director and co-founder with husband, Justin, of Natural Restorations, a nonprofit dedicated to removing trash, graffiti and other foreign objects from the environment in Arizona.
“We also had a big showing from the off-highway vehicles community,” Corey said Sept. 4.
She sounded appalled by the amount of trash and illegal dumping at the target shooting site. “Some people just empty out their garbage and landscaping,” she said.
Volunteers collected a huge pile of broken glass, old mattresses and appliances. The scheduled trash container was a “no show,” Corey said, but she is working to have another company come out this week and complete the event by hauling away what she estimates was 6-7 tons of trash.
Jesse Wasil, owner of Summit Jeep Company, and three of his technicians participated Saturday. A Northern Arizona 4-by-4 club invited him, he said.
“We all use the Doce Pit to do target practice and shooting,” Wasil, a 30-year resident of Prescott, said.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for us to give back to the community. This was our first time and definitely not our last.”
Doce Pit, located out Iron Springs Road about 6.5 miles from the intersection at Williamson Valley Road, is part of the Prescott National Forest.
Corey said PNF Ranger Randall Brumund was on-site and gave the safety briefing to volunteers before the start of the cleanup and an overview of the game plan.
Several families worked together, and a group of 14 high school students and two supervisors from the Glendale Conservation Society came up from the Valley.
“I am super grateful for the volunteers, who came out on a holiday weekend to work with people they don’t know in order to keep this place safe and clean for the rest of us to enjoy,” Corey said.
Other volunteers included the Skull Valley Trail Blazers 4-H hikers, a group from the American Legion, and an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University fraternity.
Surprisingly, this year volunteers found no refrigerators, Corey said. They did find televisions, four to six couches, and electronics, such as computer monitors, propane tanks from grills, mattresses and box springs.
“People that do landscaping bring out their trash. It’s not OK to dump in our National Forests. It’s pretty unfortunate,” Corey said.
Wasil said he, too, was amazed at the amount of trash.
“We’ve gone out there before. You see it here and there — there are 10 sites — but when you start looking and finding stuff hiding in the tall weeds, I was just amazed at how much trash there was. It’s kind of sad,” he said. “It looks a million times better.”
Big Daddy E’s BBQ from Chino Valley provided lunch for the volunteers. Will Thornton, owner of Mr Target Online, donated an armored steel target to a lucky winner. These targets, engineered for deflection, not ricochet, can withstand rounds from handguns and rifles without penetration, and they last for generations, the website states.
The targets aren’t cheap, Corey said, but she liked what she saw.
“More and more people, if they were to go toward this, we wouldn’t be pulling trash out of the forest,” Corey said.
To minimize the need for these annual cleanups, Corey said PNF officials will start conducting target shooting forums this fall. PNF also is looking into restrictions and tighter enforcement similar to what Tonto National Forest has in place.
“We’ve already noticed a difference,” she said.
Natural Restorations is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established three years ago. Its website states volunteers have removed more than 237 tons of trash and more than 3,168 square feet of graffiti from outdoor recreation and wilderness areas across the state.
Follow Sue Tone on Twitter @ToneNotes. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.