Queen It Up!
By Michele RobertsonThe summer of 2020 has been a new experience for us all. We are fortunate here in Carlsbad to live in an area with diverse outdoor recreation opportunities. COVID-19 brought about a change to the way people get out of the house. Instead of heading to a concert, museum, library, or local nightlife spot due to them being closed, people opted to go outside. As more people are exploring the great outdoors, more trash is being left behind. Being outside is beneficial in many ways, mentally and physically. No one wants to see a bunch of trash left lying around, messing up beautiful views. Memorial Day weekend was no exception to this, as over 3000 visitors came through Sitting Bull Falls and the amount of trash left behind was staggering. In response to that event, a committee was formed to address the issue. A clean up date is set for Saturday October 3rd, 2020. The event is co-sponsored by USDA, Eddy County, Keep Carlsbad Beautiful, and Campfire Industries. Advertising and promotional sponsor is Eddy County Lodger’s Tax. “Our meal sponsor is XTO-we couldn’t have done this without their generosity. XTO’s support is two-fold. First they were happy to get involved in cleaning up our public lands in Eddy County and keeping the environment clean and enjoyable for the community. Second, it was very important to XTO that the food provided from their donation be purchased from local restaurants to help support them during this time,” said Jeri Strong, Public Information Officer for EddyCounty.“When Sitting Bulls Falls had to shut down after Memorial Day because of all the trash left out there the community was very upset. I reached out to USDA-Lincoln National Forest and connected with Kelsey Smith with the idea of a community clean-up. The timing was perfect, as Kelsey had been trying to plan a clean-up out there already,” Strong added. “When I first drove into Carlsbad in January 2018 to take a job with Carlsbad Caverns National Park, I noticed a lot of trash on the side of the roads. Everywhere I drove, even out to our public lands, I still saw a bunch of trash. I could never understand why people felt the need to ruin the beauty of the landscape by throwing trash on the ground. When I transferred to the Guadalupe Ranger District in September 2019, I had more freedom to start projects that I wanted to. I had originally planned a clean up of Sitting Bull Falls for April 2020, due to COVID-19, we had to cancel. When Jeri Strong, Eddy County PIO, contacted me about Sitting Bull Falls closing, I saw this as an opportunity to incorporate the communities of Eddy County,” said Kelsey Smith, Recreation Technician for the Lincoln National Forest, Guadalupe District. Queen up the Guads is a Volunteer community clean-up at Sitting Bull Falls to inspire and educate our community and visitors to take action on improving and beautifying our public lands. Clean up areas are Queen Highway, CR 409, and CR 67. Volunteers will meet at the Guadalupe Ranger District Admin Site located at 3366 QueensHighway at 8:00 AM the day of the event. Thanks to sponsors, food will be provided throughout the day. Starting with breakfast burritos and ending with dinner back up at the Administrative Building. Trash bags, gloves, and other PPE will be provided. Be on the lookout for Smokey Bear in the morning and snag a selfie with him! Interest in the event is high, over 370+ people have expressed interest. “Even if 100 of those interested people come, it will be a success. My hope is that this will become annual! The plan is that each year we will focus on different areas of the district to clean up.” Smith added. Several clean-ups have occurred during the summer, out on Boyd Drive, Derrick Road, and the Carlsbad Disc Golf Course to name a few. Individuals around the community are working towards the beautification of our fair city and surrounding areas. “It's amazing to see the way that people are coming out and getting involved in such a tremendous way. Queen Up the Guads is a cool way to reach a whole other niche of the community that hasn't been done before, and I'm super excited to see this one take place. Of course, in a perfect world, we wouldn't need a clean-up event at all. The goal would be to work our way out of holding events like these. But the more people that get involved to raise awareness, the better the chance is of that happening” shared Mary Garwood, Executive Director for Keep Carlsbad Beautiful. “It's been great having individuals step up around our community! Our blocks, streets, and parks are all extensions of our homes. With these personal clean-up efforts taking place, it feels so great to see that it's getting through to people that we all have a responsibility in keeping our community a clean place to live and have others visit,” Garwood said. Saturday September 26th is National Public Lands Day, sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management. Their location this year is 6-mile dam. Then we have Queen up the Guads on October 3rd, and on October 10th, RiverBlitz round 2 will be happening. Residents have several opportunities to help keep our lands beautiful, come out and join the community efforts! Remember to #RecreateResponsibly by leaving no trace.