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AZTEC — As events are being canceled to stop the spread of coronavirus, the annual Chokecherry Canyon trash cleanup is still scheduled for this weekend.

Organizer Allen Elmore said there will be some extra precautions taken, including asking people in high risk categories or who have symptoms to stay at home rather than participating.

Instead of the community lunch, participants are being asked to pick up the lunch and to eat in their cars. Elmore said surfaces will be disinfected regularly during the cleanup and volunteers will not be working in groups.

Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. March 21 at the entrance to the Glade Run Recreation Area located just off of Piñon Hills Boulevard.

The canyon is a popular recreation site for off-road vehicles, equestrians, mountain bicyclists and hiking. However, it is also a place where people routinely dump trash.

The Cliffhangers Four Wheel Drive Club organizes the clean up each year.

One of the big changes is that lunch will no longer be served in a group setting at the Brown Springs Campground, and the raffle prize drawing results will be announced over a loud speaker.

The raffle includes prizes from local tattoo artists Ty Morris and Andrea Hathcock, food gift cards from Taco Bell and Texas Roadhouse, gift cards to Aspen Leaf Yogurt that were donated by County Commissioner John Beckstead, and other items.

Cliffhangers will also hide two notes. The people who find the notes will receive an 1800s silver dollar.

Elmore has been organizing the event for about 8 years, but Cliffhangers has been putting on annual cleanups for decades. The cleanups typically occur in the spring and fall.

Elmore said last year 26 tons of trash were cleaned up. In addition to the 26 tons of trash, a car was also removed.

The spring cleanup last year brought more than 200 volunteers to the public lands and resulted in 15.1 tons of trash being removed from the canyon.

“I’m a volunteerist,” Elmore said. “I believe that people are completely capable of changing problems they see in their world. Public dumping is a very visible issue. Chokecherry is my playground. It’s where I wheel and hike and camp and bike. It only makes sense that I’d want to see it clean. Our economy is changing in Farmington. Cliffhangers wants to be a part of that change, promoting off road recreation as an alternative.”

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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