by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
Nine-year-old Zara Davis could have been doing a million other things on a wet and overcast weekend morning. Things like sleeping, watching cartoons, playing Legos, or video games – to name a few.
Instead, Davis and her father Lee Daugherty were two of almost 200 people who attended Saturday's Quadratec spring trail cleanup event at Anthracite Offroad Adventure Area in Coal Township, Pa.
Volunteers spent the chilly morning and early afternoon stuffing trash bags and hauling away all kinds of debris from wet cardboard to broken toilets and cracked televisions. And tires. Lots and lots of tires. All stuff illegally dumped over the past 50-plus years.
Davis and Daugherty were among the tire crew, who helped move and line up the heavy rubber objects so a constant stream of Jeeps could pull them away. It was hard work and Davis certainly didn’t shy away from doing her part, as she understood why it was important.
“If we weren’t out here, the trash would still be laying out here and the animals could all die,” Davis said.
“This is upsetting, seeing how bad this is,” he said. “Seeing all the tires like this, I’m really glad we could come and help out.”
Quadratec, along with Off Road Consulting and Anthracite Trail Riders, helped sponsor the event, which included lunch for all participants as well as an afternoon raffle with over $2,000 in parts and free park admission.
“Last year we had about 20 or so people come out, so this year’s turnout is fantastic and really appreciated,” said Craig Jaros, Quadratec’s Outside Events Coordinator. “The fact that so many people gave their time and came out today shows you how much people do care”
Coal Township commissioners donated the use of their loader and dump truck, while Disposable Management Services of Coal Township offered up two 30-yard dumpsters to help facilitate the trash cleanup. Garbage bags and gloves for all participants were provided by the ‘Keep PA Beautiful’ organization.
Off-Road Consulting founder Kyle Buchter, and AOAA Operations Director David Porzi helped organize the group shortly after 9 a.m. with a meeting that stressed safety above everything else, before dispersing volunteers to various areas on AOAA’s Eastern and Western sections. Full size Jeeps and their occupants tackled areas in the Western Reserve, while UTV/ATV vehicles and their riders worked the Eastern side.
"These folks were the most dedicated people we have ever seen and they weren't there to just win a winch, they were on a mission to give back to the trails that they enjoy and respect so much," Buchter said. "From the college kids who brought strength and rather crafty ways to collect the trash, including winching couches and utilizing sleds to haul rubbish from the side of our 60-ft pit, to the girls who were carrying tires two at a time and putting the guys to shame, the two areas we concentrated on were meant to take two or three clean ups and with the help of everyone on our team, we were able to get it done in one."
"Over 400 tires were pulled out from our area and folks formed long relay lines to roll the tires to the final tire collecting location, where they were then removed via the Jeep tire train."
Besides that mountain of tires, piles of trash were also collected from all over the trail area. Volunteers dragged bags and items to a central area where the front end loader scooped up and deposited into one of the donated dumpsters. Some of the more unique items were things like cracked toilets, a children’s wading pool, old exhaust parts, stereo systems, television sets, a Big Wheel, washing machine, and several couches.
"I can't thank the volunteers enough from the bottom of our hearts for the effort they put in Saturday to fill two 30-yard dumpsters and pull out over 400 tires," Porzi said. "This turnout was the biggest we've ever had for a cleanup, and the fact so many came out to help is absolutely overwhelming. It makes me proud to know so many people came out to take part ownership in the AOAA area with this cleanup."
"It was certainly a team effort."
While the trash would be hauled away, AOAA plans to utilize some of the tires for trail obstacles while sending the rest to recycling, Porzi said.
Porzi also said the combination of several cleanups over the last year has greatly improved the appearance of the county’s land and welcomed back new wildlife.
“Places that literally looked like dumps, the vegetation’s coming back,” he said in an interview with the News-Item. “We’re returning it to its natural state.”