Land Rover group helps Moab Solutions with Spanish Valley Drive cleanup effort

Participants in the 2016 Land Rover National Rally in Moab volunteered with local nonprofit Moab Solutions on Sept. 22, cleaning up a portion of Spanish Valley Drive. The group collected approximately 450 containers of recycling, transforming many of the collected aluminum cans into an educational art piece.

Jim Jenista, Land Rover National Rally coordinator from the Solihull Society, said he thought a Land Rover replica made of collected goods could be visual proof that the motorized community and the conservation community have similar aims.

“We have the same goal, which is to keep the environment accessible and pristine no matter how you’re accessing it,” Jenista said. “Whether it’s hiking, biking, four-wheeling, equestrian, everybody ought to be able to enjoy that. Even if we differ on how we like to enjoy it, we should all have the same sense of responsibility of ‘pack it in, pack it out.’”

The Land Rover art piece is meant to be an “attention grabber,” according to Jenista. He hopes other motorized groups might be inspired to complete a cleanup and represent their own recreational interests.

“It’ll be like the ice bucket challenge. Whatever clubs in local cities, whatever shape is their shape — they’ll make their own,” Jenista said.

Sara Melnicoff of Moab Solutions, took the Land Rover volunteers out to clean a 1-mile stretch of road along Spanish Valley Drive, near Ken’s Lake. She plans to use the art piece for an educational display during another motorized event — the unofficial Jeep rally at Potato Salad Hill over Easter weekend.

“I’m always looking for ways to demonstrate how much trash is out there because it’s mind boggling,” Melnicoff said. “You don’t see it from the road.”

She said that simply driving along the road does not allow people to see just how much trash is out there.

“If you’re just driving by, you will see the occasional bottle. But if you get out there, you’ll see much more,” Melnicoff said. “Almost 500 containers on 1 mile of roadway — that’s pretty massive.”

She said that almost 95 percent of the recyclables collected off the road by the Land Rover volunteers were alcohol containers.

“I’d really like to call attention on how much drinking and driving there is,” Melnicoff said. “The big problem is that people don’t want to get stopped with an open container. So they don’t want to have alcohol containers in their vehicles.”

Both Melnicoff and Jenista said that by working together, conservationists and motorized enthusiasts can get a lot done. She credited Jenista’s enthusiasm for re-energizing her to do weekly cleanups through Moab Solutions.

“[Jenista] was so gung ho that it re-energized me a little bit. I’d like to start a weekly cleanup with anybody who wants to do it,” Melnicoff said. “ … We could get four or five people together to do weekly cleanups — Murphy Lane, Millcreek, Spanish Valley. I don’t want to let it go by the wayside.”

For Melnicoff, doing cleanup work throughout Moab comes with a huge reward.

“It’s my first love doing the cleanup, especially on rural roads. When you look back and you don’t see any debris, it’s the reward. The grasses look like they’re singing,” Melnicoff said. “The thing I think I’m proudest of, since 1994 hundreds of thousands of pounds of recycling have passed through my hands. And usually 60 to 70 percent can be recycled.”

Volunteers interested in Moab Solutions cleanups should call Melnicoff at 435-401-4685. For more information about Moab Solutions, visit the website: moab-solutions.org.

ByBy Molly Marcello

The Times-Independent