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'We're the garbage fairies unfortunately': Idaho National Guard and volunteers clean up trash in NCA

Posted at 9:46 PM, Jun 22, 2024

KUNA, Idaho — The Idaho National Guard, with the help of volunteers from a variety of organizations, held a trash cleanup event in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA). The National Conservation Area is littered with trash and debris from visitors of the public lands.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

“You know, we joke about there not being a garbage fairy out there that comes and cleans up, but we're the garbage fairies, unfortunately,” says Casey O’Connell, who is volunteering to pick up trash with the Birds of Prey NCA Partnership.

“If we don’t do it, it’s just going to keep building up and eventually become a pretty tremendous problem,” says O’Connell.

The National Conservation Area is home to the largest population of nesting birds of prey in North America, as well as the Orchard Combat Training Center, which the Idaho National Guard uses for military training.

“We’ve provided four industrial size dumpsters, as well as the porta-johns to help support people,” says Lieutenant Colonel Allan Whitehead of the Idaho National Guard. He worked to coordinate this cleanup event.

“Events like this are really helpful to be able to clean up some of that debris, help lessen the impact on either military training or environmental conservation, and really it's a win-win for both efforts,” Whitehead said.

“It just looks poor on the landscape and then people see that and they say 'Oh it’s okay to do this,' and it reinforces that it’s okay to dump trash, when I think a lot of us know that it’s not,” says Steve Alsup, the President of the Birds of Prey NCA Partnership.

He tells me that events like this set a good example for how people should treat these public lands.

“People come out here to recreate, to see what beautiful natural resources are out here and we don’t want the first thing they see to be a big pile of trash,” Alsup said. "Someone’s whole living room set is out here."

“We’ll probably continue to do these more often, because the cost to the organization is very low,” added Whitehead. "But the impact of the efforts of the public and other volunteers is immense."