On a recent Saturday morning last November, nearly 400 OHV enthusiasts gathered north of Phoenix for a half-day area cleanup on public lands frequented by a wide range of users. Numerous local four-wheel drive clubs worked alongside personnel from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other organizations to help cleanse the Table Mesa area of debris and trash left behind by irresponsible visitors.
Table Mesa is located less than an hour north of Phoenix and has been a popular multi-use public land location for decades. It is a very popular spot for off-roaders, target shooters, and numerous other outdoor enthusiasts. We were aware of the upcoming cleanup, but were also contacted by local wheeler Ted Dangler, who was serving as one of the organizers by establishing multiple means of notifying people of the event. Tread Lightly! got involved, and the National Rifle Association encouraged local gun enthusiasts to join in.
As people arrived, they signed in, got a short talk about the goals for the day, and picked up gloves, trash bags, and maps to designated cleanup sites. Vehicles poured in constantly for a couple of hours, and volunteers arrived to help do their part to keep this area clean and open for public use.
Work was feverish for about three hours, and then the crew wrapped it up about noon for a sponsored lunch. The crowd was able to gobble up about 450 hot dogs, 270 bags of chips, 30 pounds of chili, 40-plus pizzas, 30 cases of water, and 18 cases of soda. It turned out to be a nice ending to very productive morning in the desert.
When you attend one of these volunteer events, it’s more than just time to do the task at hand. It’s also a time to meet other like-minded wheelers you might not normally encounter. You’ll also have an excellent opportunity to check out a wide range of vehicles that show up. If you’re new to wheeling and looking to join a club, this could be a chance to have access to several that might interest you and allow you to meet some members. You get the chance to do a good civic deed and share your wheeling interests with others.
Changes Due To Come to the Area
The Table Mesa area consists of about 11,500 acres of public land administered by the BLM. With all the varied users, there are concerns that merge between them, BLM, and property owners who have land rights in parts of this region.
The BLM released a planning document in 2010 for Table Mesa after several intensive years of study of the area. Public collaboration and input over a two-year period was also taken under consideration as this plan was formed.
The plan includes, from an off-roading standpoint, what is described as an approved trail list that will be marked with signage. Some existing trails will be closed to access and a few new trails will be established. This will all fall under the establishment of a route system, defining where certain types of users can participate in their activities. Staging areas will be defined and restricted trailhead parking established to prevent people from parking anywhere they want. Animals that are deemed to need protection, such as the Desert Tortoise, are being carefully considered and their preservation monitored.
One result of the planning is that the area will be organized with a “zoned approach” to keep certain groups of users restricted to specified areas for safety and compatibility reasons.
By the time you read this, the BLM, Off Highway Vehicle Ambassadors, and the Arizona OHV Coalition will probably have signed the trails, started making trail improvements, and begun installing information kiosks in the area.