On Saturday, November 4th, the coalition dedicated to the permanent protection of the Caja del Rio hosted our annual fall clean-up on the Caja. Tribal leaders, local elected officials, the new BLM park ranger and volunteers from all over New Mexico came to show their support and removed over 20,000 pounds of trash from the Caja.

We started our morning in the parking lot of the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph site with a brief introduction led by Caja coalition member Rev. Andrew Black. We split into groups and made our way up the long, dirt road that led us deeper into the Caja.

Every fall, as we bring new and former volunteers into the Caja, we’re consistently met with the painful sight of trash as far as the eye can see. Piles of discarded household items, old mattresses, furniture, appliances, and old discarded building materials are some of the most common things dumped in the Caja. Despite a transfer station located just down the road, illegal dumping continues to happen in some of the most vulnerable areas of the Caja putting wildlife and delicate ecosystems in danger. This is why we must continue to push for permanent protection of this cherished landscape. 

People sprung to action and worked together to remove the larger items from the landscape. Piece by piece, the Caja began to look more like its natural self. 

A huge shout-out to our friends and allies at the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency for graciously donating not one, but two full-size dumpsters for this year’s clean-up. 

While volunteers worked in tandem to target the heavy-hit areas, others expanded their reach and picked up trash that had been scattered by the wind. Filled trash bags accumulated near the dumpsters and before we knew it, we’d filled two dumpsters to the brim.

After a few hours, our crews were ready for a much-needed break. And nothing says ‘thank you’ like a burrito from Posa’s, a go-to favorite! We shared stories and marveled in the day’s accomplishments before parting ways. 

To learn about future clean-ups and events hosted by the Caja coalition, make sure to follow us on our social channels and sign-up for our newsletter! 

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