A group of 13 BYU-Idaho students spent Saturday morning cleaning up an area near “R” Mountain where many people go shooting.
Zarina Leiva, a senior studying communication, is one of the students leading the group Friends of the Bureau of Land Management. She said the group was created by a group of public relations students to help clean up public land and spread awareness about not leaving trash on that land.
Leiva said the land is open to the public and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. She said there has been a big problem recently with people shooting guns and leaving trash behind. On Saturday, the group cleaned up items ranging from broken glass and shotgun shells to an old computer that had been used as a target.
“The land is here for everyone to enjoy, but a lot of times, people shoot on it and they don’t clean up after themselves,” Leiva said. “So we are just trying to help clean up the area and make it so that people can enjoy it, but enjoy it in a better way.”
Leiva said they are not trying to get people to stop shooting; they just encourage people to be more responsible with their activities.
“If you tell people don’t go shooting, they’ll be like, ‘You’re crazy,’” Leiva said.
Leiva said people can still enjoy the land and use it for shooting and other activities, but that they should clean up after themselves and be responsible. She said it would make a big difference if people would learn what things are biodegradable and what things are not.
Sarah Wheeler, a public relations specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, said there is an increasing problem with people dumping trash on public land. She said they have even found things like old mattresses and refrigerators dumped on the land.
“You name it and we’ve got it dumped on our public land,” Wheeler said. “And this is obviously creating issues for a lot of people because that area is used by so many people.”
Wheeler said the land is not only used for shooting, but also by people riding ATVs and other activities. She said the trash dumping is not only visually unappealing, but dangerous. She said the shards of glass, chemicals and even dead animal carcasses can cause hygiene issues and lead to other dangers.
Leiva said they hope those who use the public land will be able to create a habit of cleaning up after using the land for their activities. She said the Friends of the Bureau of Land Management intends to have a cleanup day every couple months.
“You’d be surprised at how dirty it gets within two months,” Leiva said.
Leiva said she and her classmates started Friends of the Bureau of Land Management just recently. She said the group is not part of the Bureau of Land Management, which means they can work with the bureau but still be independent and get things done quickly. The Bureau of Land Management is a federal agency responsible for managing millions of acres of public land around the country.
Almost 12 millions acres of land in Idaho are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, according to the Bureau of Land Management website. This is nearly a quarter of all the land in the state of Idaho.
Leiva said Friends of the Bureau of Land Management has had some success in spreading awareness about the care of public land throughout the community. She said they had a booth at a local air show and that people from local gun clubs were supportive of the cause. She said a lot of people who use the land responsibly would like to see others keep it clean as well.
Leiva said Friends of the Bureau of Land Management wants to have a mascot for the group, and they will be holding an art competition for students to submit designs to decide the mascot.
More information for future events will be placed on the Friends of the Bureau of Land Management Facebook page.