Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
Lefthand Canyon
Earthday Cleanup

by Adam Mehlberg

[Note: Lefthand Canyon is north of Boulder, Colorado and west of Longmont, Colorado in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.]

This years Lefthand Canyon Cleanup project was a great success, though the previous four annual cleanups were just as productive. We all started arriving at 8:30am on Sunday April 20th, 1997. The Northern Colorado Trail Riders (NCTR) had already begun arriving, some with their motorcycles in tow for the trip after lunch. The Trailridge Runners 4WD Club (TRR) members signed in with the rest and grouped up to head up to ‘Five Points'. This year we would finally haul out the Jeep Wagoneer and the little red car, both of which had started to bury themselves into the creek bottom below ‘Five Points'. Also in attendance were a few of the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit (RMEC) members.

Richard Boddy, Roy Hood, Gail Straty, Hurshell Malone, Greg Berry, Edith Burch, and Doug Douthit took the lead up to the old hulks to begin their extrication from creek bed. Richard and Ryan Body had went up to get the VIN numbers off the vehicles the weekend before, so that we could get permission form Paul Krisanits, the Law Enforcement Officer for the Boulder Ranger District of the US Forest Service, to remove them. Shortly Dan LeMaster, Larry LeMaster, Roger Young, and Ann Madden, followed. Bill Boitano and his nephew, John Miller, stayed below at the shooting areas with me to help haul the filled trash bags to the dumpster with his truck. Irby and Ron, the Boulder District seasonal employees, were also here to help this year.

By 9:00am we were hard at it, cleaning up the trash that had been shot up and left by some of the less conscientious target shooters. The Executive Order prohibiting shooting at the first area was completely gone from the sign post at the entrance to the 4WD road, so I posted the last laminated copy that Paul Krisanits of the Boulder Ranger District had given me. The carsonite ‘No Shooting' signs we put in last year at the lower section were no where to be found. Only a short section of the splintered post stuck out of the ground. I placed two new ones that are the last of the ‘No Shooting' signs which were purchased with the extra funds from our Middle St. Vrain project a few years ago. One of the large dual plate, 1/4" thick signs, welded to a 4" square pipe that Paul had put in the ground with concrete last year was still standing, though the second one that was installed was gone. Only one bolt held the two plates of the remaining sign together, it appeared as if the other three bolts had been shot out. No lettering remained due to the many shotgun blasts that had been directed at the ‘No Shooting' on the sign.

Though some shooting had been done in the area where it was illegal to shoot, the amount has reduced since the last few years. We were done with the lower area in short order and moved the group up to the other two legal shooting areas just past the hairpin turn in the 4WD road. These upper areas don't represent the same risk to the public as the lower section does, due to the fact that the 4WD road does not cross above them.

By now the construction sized dumpster, donated by Western Disposal, was getting pretty full. Even though the dumpster was dropped off along the County road near the entrance to the Lefthand Canyon 4WD road at 4:30 pm on Saturday, it had 30 tires in it by 8:00 am Sunday morning. I guess some of the mountain residence don't like paying the extra cost for trash removal. While some raked up shoot gun shell casings with a leaf rack and used a snow shovel to scoop them into the trash bags, others were raking out the trash and shot up targets from the small creek that runs through the area.

This year we found washing machines and dryers, a CD player, phone books, milk jugs, glass bottles, televisions, radios, clay pigeons, a few still whole, and even stuffed animals. By noon the dumpster was full up to the top and lunch was on the grill. Roger made it back down from the upper meadow, which was as far as he got. He and Ann filled the bed of his truck with trash from that area which is used quite a bit for camping.

As we ate lunch, a mini van parked down at the hairpin turn. The occupant proceeded to walk over to the hillside we had just cleaned up and set up a milk jug, and began shooting. Of course the area he was in was legal to target practice. It was still hard to watch the beginning of next years cleanup before we had finished this one. Finally Lee, of NCTR, walked down and asked the person to go somewhere else due to the 40 plus people in the area. I imagine he went to the next little gully a few hundred yards further up the county road. This area also needs to be addressed, but our clubs are working to protect our access on the Lefthand Canyon 4WD road.

With lunch done and the final bit of trash removal under way it was time to end the project and begin the riding and 4 wheeling. I had not heard from Richard and the extraction crew yet, and Bill was willing to take his pickup on up the 4WD road, so we went looking for our other 4WD club members.

On our way to ‘Five Points' we collected Dan and Larry and Michael Lonzer, another four wheeler that read about our project in the newspaper. Before the "Maze" area we passed two other four wheelers that had come up for the project and were working on removing a trashed Jeep CJ-7 (which we later learned, by getting the VIN number to the Forest Service, had been stolen). We also met Greg towing down the little red car. At the end of the "Maze" we went just a short distance further and parked at a wide spot. Richard, Roy, Hurshell, Doug, and Gail were working the Wagoneer past an off camber section of the road. Gail was hooked up to the Wagoneer trying to drag it over the rocks with out letting it drag her off the road. About half way across this section, gravity pulled the Wagoneer remains off the road and down hill. We unhooked Gail to let her get past the off camber section, and got Roy past the wreckage as well.

By now Greg was coming back up, so we got him into position to winch the Wagoneer back up onto the road. But first, we had to let three other vehicles that had come up behind Greg get by, as they could not back up over the other rough section of road we would be doing next. Once they had passed, Greg got everything hooked up and pulled the Wagoneer back onto the road. Next we had to have Greg back over the other obstacle and Dan backed up the road to hook up to the Wagoneer. The chain was pulled short and hooked back at the firewall to lift the front when the frame got hung up on the rocks in the road. Shortly Dan was on his way. With a little human guidance and a constant forward momentum from Dan we got the Wagoneer past the next section of off camber road.

In about 30 minutes Dan had the Wagoneer dropped off next to the car and CJ-7. I decided to put them in the parking place used by the shooters at the illegal shooting area. This may help reduce the shooting in this area until we work out where to take the remains of the vehicles. It was 4:00pm now, and dinner time was approaching. Time to end this years cleanup.

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