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Duners do part to tidy up sand dunes
Mike and Erica Combs were among the thousands of duners who began their three-day weekend at the Imperial Sand Dunes on Saturday by joining in to make it a cleaner place.
"There is really no reason the dunes should be dirty," Mike Combs said. "But we want to keep this place open and if this is what it takes, then we will do our part."
The Combses, who are from British Columbia, Canada, have been coming to the dunes for three years now and said they have participated in the cleanup every year.
"We just think it is a great idea," Erica Combs said.
The 12th annual Dunes Cleanup, which began with 8 a.m. sign-ups, was expected to gather up truckloads of trash from the popular recreation site.
The annual cleanup is sponsored by United Desert Gateway, Duner's Diner, RideNow Powersports, Monster Energy Drink, Quad Magazine, Sand Sports Magazine and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Registration sites were located in both the south and north sides of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.
Rick Cottington, of Phoenix, and Charles Williams of Oracle, signed up at Gordon's Well, the south end main staging area, because they wanted to volunteer some time filling trash bags with garbage.
"This is my fifth year participating in the cleanup," Williams said. "The dunes gives us a lot of enjoyment so I want to give something back."
Cottington, who planned to do some cleaning up of the hills behind registration site, added, "Keeping trash off the ground keeps the dunes open."
Cottington said he actually spends a couple of hours every morning he is at the dunes picking up trash, which a lot of duners do.
"It's actually contagious. I will be out there picking up trash and usually people will pull up and start helping."
Other southern registration sites included Buttercup (vendor row), Ogilby Camp (past the tower toward the south) and Midway.
Event organizer Matt Molenar was pleased with the turnout, saying they expect a few thousand duners to participate.
"Part of being a duner is not just about using the land, it is also about being responsible about it. We want to keep the dunes clean so they remain open."
Molenar added that, in general, it seemed to him that the dunes were cleaner this year than in the past. "You just don't see as much trash anymore."
Whether there actually is less trash, Molenar said he thinks more and more duners are aware of the notion of packing out what they pack in due to the publicity campaigns promoting the concept.
North dune registration areas were at Glamis Flats (north end main staging area, event area of the Glamis Beach Store, near vendor row), Wash Road (No. Four), Gecko Road (across from the BLM ranger station) and Oldsmobile Hill.
According to event organizer Charla Teeters, there was no shortage of duners showing up at the north dune registration sites either.
"We have had a really good, steady stream of people signing up," Teeters said Saturday. "We are getting calls from other sites needing more trash bags and T-shirts, so they seem to be doing well also."
Only about an hour into the cleanup, Teeters said, the event had already collected many, many truckloads of trash.
Participants were given trash bags when they registered and were returning them when filled for tickets to a raffle after the cleanup.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.