Yesterday, January 17th, 2019 we put out a call for help online through our website and with some Facebook groups including Quartzsite Chatter and RTR Chatter. This was a call for volunteers to come help haul off the trash that was collecting at the LTVA known as La Posa South just south of Quartzsite, AZ
This is not a political story. This is not a bashing story. This is a story about community and what can happen when good, caring people come together to make a difference. This story is based on what I personally witnessed and what was told to me by others. THANK YOU to EVERYONE who participated in this!
Here is a photo of what the bins looked like before we started:
At 8:45 in the morning I arrived and backed up to the bins, ready to start loading trash and waiting for volunteers to arrive. While I waited several people arrived and threw their trash on top of the trash on the ground. I just shook my head. A lady walked across the street from the RV dump station with a small bag of trash in her hand. I said to her, “There’s no room for that here, please take it with you”. She said, “The hell there isn’t” as she tossed her small bag onto the heap and then resolutely walked back and got into her large Class A RV.
Another person told me that he had paid for his permit and that included trash and so he was putting his trash there. Another chuckled as he threw his large bag in and said, “I hope the strike is over soon.” (Strike!?!) A man walked up taking pictures and said he was sending it to the White House. I suggested that he return in an hour and take some pictures of what we Boondockers do! As far as I know he did not. Then another person walked towards the dump with his phone and I snapped. I said something to the effect of: “Are you here to help or be part of the problem?” He laughed and said he was there to help. That was RVerTV!! Oh my. I’ll tell more about this amazing person in a few more paragraphs.
Let me pause here and explain what an LTVA is to those who don’t know so they can understand. LTVA stands for Long Term Visitors Area and it is public land that is managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management – a division of the US Department of the Interior).
Quartzsite, AZ is a small town that becomes a mecca for RVers mostly referred to as “Snow birds” (those who escape colder climes for the desert warmth during the winter months). They come in droves and can (some say) swell this area to up to a million people. There are more RV parks in this town than any other in the US and there are over 11,000 acres of public lands that are being utilized as well. The LTVA here is broken into 4 areas, 2 on each side of Hwy 95 going south out of town. This is a permit area which means that you purchase the right to use it because it has water, pit toilets, trash bins and RV and BlueBoy dump stations (only La Posa South has the water and dump stations). The rest of the BLM land around Quartzsite is just open land with no services at all. (there are dump stations in town as well as all other services that a camper needs).
The fee as of this year is $180.00 and it allows you to stay from September 15th until April 15th, after April 15th there are other fees (read more about that in our menu item about this topic). So right there, once you pay that you are “entitled” (I sorta dislike that word) to the services and land use for any time during the 7 months permit period.
The company who has the contract for emptying the trash bins at the 4 LTVA locations is C&D Disposal. It is my understanding that they have been prepaid for their services and the government shutdown has nothing to do with them and their contract. (If they would like to comment on this, please send me an firstname.lastname@example.org). I was told that they are contracted to empty the bins 3 times a week.
Let me ask you a question: Would you put your trash on the ground outside your home if the trash company couldn’t get there on time for some reason? If you DO, do you think they would pick it up and take it? I mean you paid your bill, you are entitled to the pick up so the only answer is to just pile up your trash outside to teach them a lesson, right? Come on people!!!! That is the attitude that we saw yesterday at the cleanup. How can you expect the trash company to get in there and empty the trash if they can’t even get to the bin?
I think many people do not realize that there is a FREE waste transfer station just north of Quartzsite and instead of adding to a massive problem, they can take their trash there.
So, let’s get back to what we did and why we did it. I, known as Kathy Boondocker on Facebook, put requests for help on two groups, Quartzsite Chatter and RTR Chatter and it was shared to others. The request asked for volunteers to come help haul away the trash to begin at 9am on the 17th.
So, it’s 9am on the 17th and I am backed up to the bins in my silver truck waiting for others to arrive. The first truck got there just at 9am and others quickly followed. Some of the people arriving to help were fellow Boondockers and I knew I could count on them because that’s what we Boondockers do – we clean up the messes others leave behind because we care about our public lands and appreciate the use of them. One of those Boondockers was Seth Knight – he’s the owner of the BIG white flatbed truck in the pictures. He is a mover and shaker who put together the big Ehrenberg cleanup. We really appreciate him joining us and helping out.Their were people who stopped to help us load the trucks – they were passing by, saw what we were doing and jumped right in. I believe a few volunteers were from town responding to the call for help. Just as others were passing by, tossing their trash onto spots just emptied by us and with an attitude, kept on going.
I saw Russ with RVerTV arrive but I didn’t know him. I found out soon enough who he was and I’m telling you – he’s a force to recon with. Here’s a link to the video he put out: RVerTV. He calmly made phone calls and sent text messages and got the City of Quartzsite involved as well as the Desert Messenger (Quartzsite’s FREE Community Paper – Quartzsite news, events and entertainment published 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, Sept. thru May). I had already texted my BLM contact in Yuma and tried to contact C&D Disposal. I was able to contact the La Paz county landfill to let them know we were coming their way and I tried to get the Quartzsite transfer station opened up for us. The manager, Dean Pankowski, explained that the company who owns the two locations, Republic Services, did not have the contract to empty the bins and every year they are overwhelmed by people from the LTVA’s bringing their trash to them at the free transfer station. He went on to tell me that they have been trying to get that contract for years but haven’t been able to get it. He stated that the charge for us to dump was going to be $26.50 per ton. I asked if I could just give him my card number and have it all put on the card but he said I would need to come in person with the first load. So I did and I instructed them that only vehicles who had one of our “11 Courtesies of Camping” cards could be put on my bill. I used those because it was the only thing I had available.
We arrived with the first 5 vehicles and I got the bill arranged for and met with Dean in person. He asked me to tell the public that if their company had had the contract, they would NEVER have allowed this to happen. It is something that many LTVA frequent visitors complain about year after year and everyone tries to blame the government when there is a shutdown.
When I returned to the LTVA, which is where I am camped, I was shocked to see the place cleaned up, a tractor and a dump truck, several city workers and yellow tape being put up to cardon off the area until the trash company could empty the bins. I was told of the heroic efforts of everyone who arrived after we left and the amazing people with the horse trailer who hauled out 1,800 pounds alone! THANK YOU! I was told that the Chief of Police had arrived and that the Chamber of Commerce had donated $100 and the Mayor was also aware of it all. They said calls were made over and over and over again to C&D Disposal but nobody was answering the phones.
I left for about an hour and then ran back down there to make sure nobody was using the bins and OMG!!!! The orange cones were down, the tape was streaming out, the signs we had made asking people to take their trash elsewhere or hold it were on the ground and their were vehicles inside the area and people throwing trash in the bins we had just topped off. As my friend, Jacqueline and I were running around trying to put everything back in place people were still trying to throw their trash away! We tried to tell them it was closed and we got a lot of nasty remarks about they paid their permit fee and they were entitled to use the bins, etc. Finally a BLM Volunteer known as Wile-e showed up on his ATV and stayed there until sundown. He fixed all of the tape and put up the signs and kept people from abusing the site again. He was amazing! I tried to buy him supper but he refused. He alone kept that place from being overrun again. (and I don’t have a picture of him!) THANK YOU!!
At 5am this morning, January 18, 2019 C&D Disposal emptied the bins. Wile-e told me that when I dropped by at 7:30am. Yep, he was right there, taking down the tape, moving the cones and everything else. He is a BLM Volunteer and even though the Government is shut down he still did his part. I wish their more people like him!
The rest of the story is that with the Government shutdown, the entry station where you pay for your permits is closed and nobody can pay to be here. That means absolutely every person staying at one of the LTVA’s without a sticker is there using all of the facilities absolutely free. It also means that anyone and everyone is coming in and using the facilities. There was a sign at the entrance that said the area was closed and told people to use the 14 day free land but that sign disappeared within 2 days.
I must say that I am VERY PROUD to be a Boondocker! WE CARE and WE CLEAN up after others. To clarify, a boondocker is someone who camps in out of the way dispersed areas mostly on public lands and you will hardly if ever find one snuggled into an RV Park (it’s a PARK you know-not camping). We very often come into locations where trash has been left behind and we pack it out with us.