High school students help clean up Red Mesa Trail

Page High School volunteers collected over 600 pounds of trash from the Red Mesa Rim Trail area. From left: Chassidy Scott, Nyah Miller, Nia Valenzuela, Hannah Fowler, Tom Preller, Shania Valentine, Miriam Lassen, Hannah Lassen, Shaunicey Begay, Louise Portillo Santacruz, Marlana Clark and Emily Hawker.

Page High School students were looking for a community service project. They chose trail cleanup. The organizing students belonged to the school’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Club and, from experience, knew Page’s local trails needed their help. 

“When we were talking about what kind of community service we wanted to do, a few of them had suggested, ‘Well, we’ve walked some of the trails.’ They’re pretty concerned about trash and the environment,” AVID Club sponsor Shania Valentine said about the project. 

The AVID Club reached out to Lynn Cormier, director of community engagement for the City of Page. Although the city’s Red Mesa Rim Trail is new, years of accumulated trash is scattered throughout the area. Cormier knew exactly where the group was needed: the east side of Red Mesa Rim Trail along the mesa rim drop-off.

On Jan. 20, students, including members of the AVID Club, Upward Bound and Page High student council, used their Saturday to pick up 600 pounds of trash at Red Mesa. Valentine said most of the trash picked up was old, but there was a lot of broken glass that appeared recent.

“It looked like people had just been coming out to break bottles everywhere,” she said.

“We’ve picked up 43,000 pounds of trash since we started doing cleanups and I started working on that rim trail grant,” Cormier said. “Unfortunately, it was pretty much a partying area where the bottles get broken after drinking beer.”

City crews hauled out demolished cars and parts from Red Mesa along with refuse and burn piles from campers.

“All of this has been uncovered and is now right there for everyone to see,” said Cormier.

“So, we’ve been taking it in sections and tried to clean up the actual trail area first. And then, from there, we’ve been [going] into areas that are off the actual trail.

“There’s still a lot to be done, and we are working on [a section] to put an 18-hole disc golf course. When you get to the top, it’s going to be back in that area behind where we have the vault toilet – so that area between the parking lot and the south area of the entrance to where the border of LeChee is. We still have plenty of trash in areas that are away from the actual trail that need to be addressed. I’m going to say 99% of [the trash] is from just years and years of people using it as camping and hangout areas.”

Cormier said the old cars dragged out with backhoes were riddled with bullet holes.

“The city itself, our HR department, we have our city cleanups, and we’ve spent countless months of those city cleanups up there,” said Cormier. “When we do Page Attacks Trash, I usually take a group of people up there and we do that as well. It used to be kind of a cowboy herding area for cattle and what have you. I do know that when they camped and lived up there for long periods of time, there are cans that are just rusted over everywhere from their beans and soup, and I guess whatever else they were able to eat out of a can.”

Old trash isn’t the only problem the city is trying to tackle.

“We’re going to start closing the Red Mesa Rim Trail after dark and then opening it at dawn,” said Cormier. People racing vehicles in the area are causing damage. 

“There’s all this rock that when they whip around those corners so fast and dig big ruts into my nice flat parking lot – I’ve lost about $5,000 worth of rock up there just from people drag racing,” said Cormier. “We’re going to start closing that at night. We do have evidence of people taking bottles up there and breaking them in areas I knew were 100% clean the week before. We just have to stay ahead of it. And the only way that the PD can really help us in that endeavor is to say, we’re going to close this during the nighttime.”

Video News