CAMP VERDE, Ariz. - The town of Camp Verde is tired of being littered on, so the mayor is adopting an initiative called "Cash for Trash" to clean up for good.
"I'd say on a scale of one to ten, it's probably about a six or seven. There's definitely pockets of areas that need some attention," said Mayor Charles German.
"We live in what could be potentially a beautiful place to live, but as you look around and you see this ground sparkling the way it is. What is beautiful about that?" said Gary Chamberlain with the North Carolina Litter-Free Coalition.
"And now our favorite swimming spots we can't go to anymore because people go there and they mess it up," said Bridgett Bowers with Camp Verde Realty.
Mayor German has lived here all of his life. He feels his hometown is being a bit disrespected.
Bottles and cans littered across the ground. Broken glass and bullet holes in junk left behind.
"It's like somebody coming and every time they come to your house and visit, they leave trash in your front room. How long would you put up with that?" German said.
"You don't want to drive around and just see trash," Bowers said.
It's hard not to find trash off the side of Highway 260 and it's not going anywhere unless someone cleans it up. For example, it'll take 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose.
"My generation has really dropped the ball on getting folks involved in this," Chamberlain said.
Meet Gary Chamberlain. He started the North Carolina Litter-Free Coalition. But more than a decade ago, he pointed out the trash problem here in Arizona.
"People said there wasn't much trash, so I walked from Camp Cottonwood to Sedona and back in a matter of two days, and hung every piece of trash I could find to signs with orange ribbon from Home Depot that started the conversation," Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain is now showing Camp Verde the way, working with the mayor and Bowers, a local realtor connectin with the community.
The Cash-4-Trash program is funded by businesses, pledging money to youth volunteers willing to clean up the litter.
An individual can make a $100 by filling up ten 33-gallon bags with trash, as well as answer six questions about the clean-up, and write a thank-you letter to the business for donating to the fund.
"We don't say thank you to this country near as much as we use to for people giving us opportunities," Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain says in two hours of learning about the coalition, eight businesses pledged money to the fund.
"If nobody picks it up and deals with it, their backyard will look like this [trash]," Chamberlain said.
It's a team effort by the people who live here, kept going by the next generation.
"I'll start with my grandbabies so you'll see them out on the street picking up trash and I think that'll carry on," Bowers said.
There are environmental consequences to trashing Camp Verde. The Verde River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the southwest and it provides millions of Arizonan's water. It's home to wildlife, some threatened or endangered.
For the people who love Camp Verde, restoring its beauty just takes pride.
"This is the best-kept secret and it's a real gem," German said.
For the Camp Verde, AZ Litter-Free Coalition "Cash-4-Trash Program" opportunities contact:
Bridgett Bowers, Realtor, Property Management
Camp Verde Realty
295 S. Main St.
Camp Verde, AZ 86322
For the North Carolina Litter-Free Coalition "Cash-4-Trash Program" opportunities contact:
North Carolina Litter-Free Coalition (FB)
Home of the Cash-4-Trash Program
P.O. Box 98
Murphy, NC 28906
928-202-1186 (AZ cell)