Mesilla – Multiple public land user groups gathered June 18 to clean up areas with a high amount of illegal dumping and Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) use.

Staff and volunteers from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Friends of the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks, Bureau of Land Management and Throat Punch Performance SXS cleaned areas west of Mesilla Dam in southern New Mexico. Over 750 pounds of trash were gathered, including mattresses, box springs, aluminum cans, glass and yard debris.

"Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks were excited to help clean up our public lands with our valued agency partners and community members. We look forward to more events like this and future collaborations with the OHV community as we work to educate on responsible usage on public lands," said Patrick Nolan, Executive Director, Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

This area is heavily utilized for recreation by local hikers, OHV users and those looking for a break from the city streets. With the increased use of public lands, an increase in illegally dumped trash has become an issue for land management agencies. "The majority of OHV users are responsible. They leave very little evidence that they were there, but when a small percentage leaves trash and drive where they want, it ruins natural resources and paints a negative image of responsible users. Saturday's event was a collaborative effort that demonstrates what can happen when all users of public land work together," said Desi Ortiz, OHV Program Law Enforcement Coordinator for the Department of Game and Fish.

Bureau of Land Management Rangers and Department of Game and Fish Conservation Officers are increasing patrols of the area and monitoring for illegal dumping, OHV violations and unlawful hunting activity. If you observe illegal activity, please contact Operation Game Thief (OGT) online or by calling 1-800-432-4263. You can provide your OGT report anonymously.

The Department encourages everyone to practice responsible recreation by being considerate of the other users of our lands, including ranchers and their livestock, wildlife, equestrians, hikers and mountain bikers. Use the proper equipment to keep you and your children as safe as possible while riding OHVs. Also, respect and obey the laws and rules that are put in place to protect New Mexico's precious land and people and that help preserve the customs and culture that are deeply woven into our state.

Visit the Department of Game and Fish's website for more information on proper OHV use in New Mexico. If you are interested in volunteering or supporting future clean-up events, please email the Friends of the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks.

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