This Land is Your Land<br><i>Clarkdale cleanup a success; group takes on Cottonwood</i>

Staff photos by Philip Wright

Dumpsters and loaders were used Saturday by volunteers with Stewards of Public Lands to clean up trash along Old Hwy 279 north of Ogden Ranch Road.

Located well past the Cottonwood Airport on Mingus Avenue, the area was rugged and filled with trash. Transients would camp out there. His officers routinely found evidence of drug use in the area too.

It was hard to keep a handle on it.

Haynie related this information to the Cottonwood city council Tuesday night. But the police chief wasn't there to tell the problems he was there to talk about the solution.

A group called the Stewards of Public Lands started working on the Mingus area land in April. After three months and 500 volunteer hours, 700 acres were clean.

Haynie and the police department were involved in the cleanup. So was the town of Clarkdale, Forest Service and a number of citizens.

"I believe that it takes a partnership," he said.

Tom Bonomo, a district ranger with the Prescott National Forest, was also at the council's meeting. He reported on the success and talked about a new area targeted by the Stewards of Public Lands.

The new parcel is partially within the Cottonwood limits. It's located in the Old Hwy 279/ Odgen Ranch Road area and it's a bigger area than the Clarkdale site.

"There's probably four times the amount of trash that's out there," Bonomo said.

The Mingus land was a real success story, he said.

The Clarkdale land was one parcel that was set for trade in the Yavapai Ranch Land exchange. The land has recently been removed from the legislation.

Bonomo said the work accomplished by the citizens group might have an impact on whether the lands are ever considered for trade again.

"All those kinds of things play into the decisions on whether the lands stay within the national forests," Bonomo said.

The first Cottonwood cleanup took place yesterday. Bonomo said the Stewards of Public Lands hopes to have the newest parcel cleaned and finished by early spring.

Jess Tyler is one of the citizen volunteers who worked on the Clarkdale land. He was at the council meeting urging Cottonwood to get involved in the cleanups.

"There is a tremendous pent-up energy to do something about our public lands," Tyler said.

For more information on how to get involved, contact Bonomo at 567-4121.

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