On March 1, nearly 250 volunteers braved the rain to help pick up more than 10 tons of trash detracting from the beauty of the popular Table Mesa Recreation Area north of Phoenix. The cleanup project is part of a larger effort to ensure continued access to public lands in Arizona by promoting outdoor ethics.

The initiative – Respected Access is Open Access in Arizona – is supported by a coalition of partners including the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Game and Fish Department, US Forest Service and Tread Lightly!, a national nonprofit organization that promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs.

“We had an outstanding turnout, especially considering the rain,” says Tom Bickauskas, Natural Resource Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management. “It’s a tremendous showing of support for our public lands. Stewardship is everyone’s job. When people can contribute in this fashion it will keep public lands open to as many uses as possible.”

The volunteers were shooting, hunting and off highway vehicle enthusiasts and many were affiliated with Discount Tire stores in the Phoenix area.

“We are out here because we care,” says Mark MacGuinness, vice president of Discount Tire Direct. “We’re enthusiasts, we’re off-roaders, we’re shooters, we’re hunters, we’re fishermen and we care about our access to the outdoors. We care about our public lands. We don’t just donate money, we show up!”

“The momentum is continuing to build and we’re thrilled at the involvement of supporters like Discount Tire and so many responsible outdoor recreationists,” says Lori McCullough, executive director of Tread Lightly!. “Engaging the recreational shooting community in addressing these issues is the proactive solution to these problems and we hope all recreational shooters will become ambassadors for this effort.”

Sponsors of the Table Mesa cleanup event include local, regional and national organizations:

Arizona Game and Fish Department Bureau of Land Management Tread Lightly! Discount Tire Arizona Off Highway Vehicle Coalition Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society AZFirearms.com Barlow Adventure Bass Pro Shops Boone and Crockett Club CEMEX Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Legendary Guns National Rifle Association National Shooting Sports Foundation Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Safari Club International Sportsman’s Warehouse White Eyes Wildlife for Tomorrow

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