Trash Pickup – Did You Get’er Done?


This past June, there was a massive uproar in the duning community when the California Coastal Commission (CCC) recommended the closure of Pismo Dunes to the OHV division of the California State Parks. Essentially, the CCC wanted to remove all OHV activities from the dunes and make the entire coastal duning community a reserve where camping would still be allowed but no ­off-highway vehicles would ever be allowed again.

Fortunately, due to the overwhelming response of ­off-roaders and activist groups such as Friends of Oceano Dunes, the American Sand Association, ORBA and many others, in a July meeting, the CCC voted against their own recommendations to close the park permanently. This was a huge win for off-roaders and the recreation community in general. The result is that Pismo will stay open for future generations to enjoy thanks to all of our efforts.

Just like the Glamis closures were a wakeup call for the duning community back in the early 2000s, this Pismo threat brings up one of the biggest problems that we face as an off-roading community: Not all of us leave our dunes a better place to ride after we leave it. Many off-roaders unwisely leave their trash at the dunes and don’t seem to have a care in the world about picking up after themselves. Dirty dunes are one of the biggest issues powerful anti-access groups use against us when mounting a charge to close down duning areas across the USA. And, frankly, there is more that you and I can do to prevent this from happening.

No matter if its tire shreds, shredded UTV belts, cooler lids, aluminum cans or boxes, trash is trash and needs to be picked up to leave our dunes cleaner for the next person to enjoy them. We found these tire shreds across several dunes and, unfortunately, the person who left them didn’t have the courtesy to clean up.

It all starts with a very basic idea: Pick up your trash!
It might seem like an elementary task, but the act of picking up your own trash and any trash that you see in the dunes is something that we all need to adopt. Especially since there is a new wave of duners enjoying our recreation areas these days, and some of them don’t seem to be educated on this concept. Or they just don’t care. What’s up with that? Let’s go through how you can do this successfully with some basics and tips and tricks.

Trash bags: How hard is it to throw an extra trash bag (or several) in your toy’s glove box or your backpack? Not that hard, really. Just don’t forget a soft tie so you can make sure you tie down your trash when on the road home. It’s also not a bad idea to double-bag it just in case the sand is rutty, which will inherently cause your vehicle to bounce.

Open eyes: How many times have I seen duners walk over bits and pieces of trash in the dunes? Too many times. It’s a responsibility we all have to pick up trash, whether it is ours or a fellow duner’s.

Another helpful tip.

PICKING UP—AT CAMP Tent, trailer, camper, pickup bed: No matter what you bring out to the dunes to house yourself and your supplies and gear, bring a trash receptacle with you.

Walmart, Target, Amazon, Home Depot and so many other stores have trash bins that are either ­stationary or expandable. Have you seen expandable trash cans? They are extremely easy to use and durable—just expand it upright, set a bag in there, and you’re good to go. The best part is it folds up and easily stores for your next use.

Get the kids involved! One of the best things you can do is teach kids to pick up after themselves at a young age (it’s better than having them glued to a screen). Give them a trash bag and teach them that it is cool to be involved with picking up the trash in the dunes.

Not only is it illegal to leave a fire pit exposed when you leave your camp after your stay, but it’s also bad practice. Plan ahead and put out your fire properly. Then be sure to cover your fire pit completely before leaving.

Fire pits: Did you know that it is the law to bury and completely cover your fire pits? Back in the early ’90s, my family actually got threatened with a ticket for not cleaning up our fire pit before we had even left our campsite. There are no hard feelings from this instance, but it taught us to always clean up our campsites before we even load the trailer for a final time. The law still exists today, so be sure to dig a deep enough hole for your fire pit so you can completely cover it when leaving your campsite for home.

We see a proper fire pit in the sand that can be easily covered.

Make sure you are using the ­dumpsters—they are located at the entrance/exit to each of the main camping areas in Glamis for a reason. The same goes for many other duning locations around the good ol’ USA.

I’m sure you have seen it too, but people like to leave a mess for the trash truck drivers by leaving trash bags on the ground, and most of the time the drivers aren’t too keen on picking up our leftovers. If you’re pulling up to a full trash bin, please take the hard way out of the situation and search out a trash bin that is not filled to the brim. Not only will you have properly thrown away your items and saved the bags from getting torn up by the ­animals in the area, but the trash truck drivers won’t have to do the deed of picking up your trash bags for you.

Don’t bring pallets to the dunes. They are illegal to burn and no one wants nails in their tires.

Here are a few things to make your trash pickup life at camp and on the trail easier.

In the sand: A dry bag works great for sealing up your trash and providing a safe receptacle to tie down and take back home with you. You can buy these at surf shops around the country and at stores like REI, Target, Walmart and, of course, on Amazon. Dry bags are sealed and made of a durable outer shell, which is perfect for all kinds of sharp trash objects and other items that you need to throw away.

Do you bring your dog on the ride? If so, then you should already have dog waste bags with you (if not, search for “Dog Waste Bags” on Amazon to find a plethora of options). These are super-handy little bags for picking up trash—kids can also get involved with picking up trash with these. Little ones will like the little baggies; they are a perfect size. Even if you don’t have a pup, these little rolls are a great solution for carrying trash bags in your off-road toy.

Bring indoor and outdoor trash can for your camp. Of course, don’t forget the bags to go along with the cans.

trash pick up
It takes years for plastic bottles to decompose, and glass bottles should never be brought to the dunes, or left there. Bring an extra recycle bin to the dunes with you so you can properly get rid of your drink cans.

GET THE GROUP INVOLVED Family, friends, kids, grandparents, dogs: Everyone can be involved with trash pickup! We encourage everyone to do a once-around at their camp each morning. Think of it as a morning ritual that you just can’t go without. Take your coffee with you if that makes it easier. Or, better yet, this is a great activity to perform while your coffee is brewing. Before you leave camp, make sure you do a complete check for all the trash around your camp.

WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT? Here’s some more insight and incentive for you: Back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the anti-­access groups and organizations that successfully got the Glamis closures instated took photos of the mass amounts of trash left in the dunes and used this data against all duners. Their efforts to get the dunes closed down, at least pieces of them, worked. Duners were left with small areas to ride.

To get these closures lifted, ­organizations like the American Sand Association (ASA) put your money to work in the courts. After almost two decades of litigation, the closures in Glamis were lifted, and 40,000-plus acres were rightfully restored to recreation users like you and me. It took the ASA and other organizations countless hours to facilitate these efforts, and they were all funded by your donations. The need for your donations to groups like the ASA is still essential, so you are encouraged to do your part and become a supporting member for $25 a year. Or you can spend a bit of money on a raffle ticket to win some pretty cool giveaway ­vehicles every year.

Keep it clean - Do your part!

CONCLUSION Having a clean riding area on our hands will not only help keep them open for many ­generations to come, but it will also put a smile on everyone’s faces when they pull up to the hill and know that the area is clean and clear of clutter. Please do your part, and feel free to pass the word on social media so we can make sure everyone is making it happen.