“We have found multiple animals in a bag stuffed in a car,” said Kostelny, the president of UTA and a man better known to dirt bike riders as Dirty Dave. “The things we pick up the most of are things that blow up: propane tanks, Coleman camp stove tanks, also computers, TVs, home appliances, yard cleanup clippings. People dump the poo from their dog runs out there in plastic bags.”
Eventually, Kostelny, one of the hundreds of dirt bike riders who use the valley, got tired of being blamed for the garbage carnage.
For the fourth year, he will set up camp in the valley and host a weekend-long cleanup event. The UTA and others will be searching for trash in the valley today and Sunday.
The 44,000-acre Hungry Valley is Bureau of Land Management land that is used for dirt biking, shooting, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and other recreation. According to a UTA study, about 200,000 people use the valley every year.
Hungry Valley is designated by the BLM as an off-highway vehicle (OHV) area, meaning dirt biking and four-wheeling is allowed.
“OHV use is popular,” said Mark Struble, public affairs officer for the Nevada office of the BLM. “As long as people stay on existing roads, it is certainly a legitimate use of public land. We just ask that people stay on trails and clean up after themselves.”
However, with the use comes some garbage. Since the first year of the annual UTA cleanup in 2006, the organization has removed more than 270 yards of trash from Hungry Valley, according to Kostelny.
One reason for the annual cleanup is an effort to keep the valley open to dirt bikers, who are one of the more noticeable groups to use the land. The group is also often pointed to as contributing to a growing land use problem.
“And we do cause some (problems),” Kostelny said. “The dust and the noise and the erosion. But we get blamed for the illegal dumping out there.”
To give back, the riders host the cleanup. CastAway Trash Hauling donates the use of two dumpsters for the weekend so the riders have a place to put the trash they find.
While Struble said most illegal dumping on BLM lands happens closer to the city, he did add that trash cleanup in Hungry Valley was necessary.
“Target shooters, 99 percent of time they don’t pick up after themselves and what they shoot they leave behind,” Struble said. “After they get the new flat-screen (TV) they take the good old Sony and shoot it up. But they don’t clean up after they are done. That is a real problem.”
Kostelny said most of the trash they find is from shooters, specifically things that “go boom,” such as propane tanks and portable fuel sources.
“We are in danger of having that area shut down because of illegal dumping and shooting,” he said. “We figure that if we keep it clean, it is much less likely to close. We want to remedy the problems that could close it even if it's not our fault.
“When I go out riding, I don’t strap a washing machine and a six pack of beer to my back,” Kostelny added. “People are running willy-nilly all over it and that’s not what that land was intended to be used for.”
For more information about the UTA, visit www.uta-usa.org.