Leave No Trace: Volunteers clean up Base and Meridian Wildlife Area

Maddie Bogart didn't have to look far to find trash.

"Little less than I would have thought, which is good," she said. "Over there I found a tire, I found some headphones, lots of glass, bottle caps -- lots of different kinds of things."

The fourth-grade teacher is one of at least 20 volunteers who spent Friday morning cleaning up the Base and Meridian Wildlife Area in Avondale.

"So a lot of cigarette butts, we have straws, some plastic bottles, a ton of glass bottles that have been shattered -- so we’re picking up those little pieces," she said.

The group was part of a larger initiative called Leave No Trace, a national non-profit organization that focuses on outdoor ethics and teaches people how to go outside responsibly.

Coordinators Erin Collier and Brice Esplin say it's important that people not only pack stuff out but also pick up what is left behind by others. They say the wildlife area here is a hotspot.

Ryan Sutter with the Arizona Game and Fish Department manages the lower-Gila River Wildlife Area and worries what can happen if cleanups like these don't.

"We have all kinds of trash -- we pull out tires, I have pulled out half a boat," he said. "It'll be unusable. It’ll turn into a dump. If you go to the landfill, see what everything’s in the landfill -- that’s what we’re getting out here."

For Bogart, making a difference means leading by example -- she's picking up every plastic lid and aluminum can in her way. It's garbage that she's not surprised to find.

"Unfortunately, I’m not, but you know what, there’s a lotta good people out here that are trying to make some change," she said.

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