Unhappy about the amount of litter she saw along the road near her home, a Mariposa resident did something about it.
Sheryl Russell organized a twice-yearly litter cleanup of a mile of Unser Boulevard just outside that northeast Rio Rancho subdivision about 21⁄2 years ago. Since then, the adopted cleanup area has grown to three miles.
“To me, the way our community looks reflects us,” Russell said.
Now a member of the Keep Rio Rancho Beautiful Advisory Board, she moved to Mariposa from Bernalillo in 2013.
“The landscape is undeniably, breath- takingly beautiful,” she said.
However, she saw trash accumulate along Unser and construction debris blow around within Mariposa. She met with city Keep Rio Rancho Beautiful Coordinator Koryn Misbach and signed up for the Adopt-a-Spot program.
Russell went to the Mariposa home- owners association, which approved the adoption and sent out a notice of the clean- up along Unser and Mariposa Parkway, the main road into the subdivision.
“And the response has just been superb from the community,” she said.
She estimated 25-30 people participate in each cleanup. KRRB supplies gloves, yellow traffic vests and trash bags, and Zach Keintz of KRRB helps put up signs to alert motorists and leads a team to pick up the filled trash bags after the cleanup.
During the first cleanup, Russell said, the group finished in an hour and a half, collecting 400 pounds of trash. Since the effort was done so quickly and people were already there, she eventually expanded the adoption area to three miles.
“Once you do that initial cleanup of Unser, it’s so easy to do the follow-up,” Russell said.
Mariposa resident Kate Matthews said she, her husband and her four young-adult children joined the cleanup days and liked the work.
“I think we all have an obligation to our community and the city as a whole,” she said, adding that it’s heart-breaking to see litter accumulate. “It’s just not good for the environment.”At the most recent cleanup in April,
volunteers picked up 1,480 pounds of trash, Russell said. She’s considering extending the adoption area by another mile.
Terri Merkley, who moved to Mariposa eight months ago, was involved in environmental cleanup work in California. She was glad to hear about and join in the work Russell organized in her new neighbor- hood because she’d noticed roadside trash since moving to New Mexico.
“It’s very upsetting because it’s such a beautiful state,” Merkley said.
The women all said they’d like to see more Rio Ranchoans getting involved in litter cleanup and prevention.
“There are a lot of people in every community that care about this, and they just need a way to organize,” Russell said.
She encouraged Rio Ranchoans to adopt a place to pick up and to contact her with ideas for litter prevention. A number of groups around town participate in the Adopt-a-Spot program.
“All efforts help reduce the impact litter has on our city and improve the overall quality of life for our residents, business owners and visitors,” said Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Connie Peterson. “Adopters are asked to commit to an area for one year, and in return are recognized with a sign in the area they’ve adopted. They’re also invited to take part in Keep Rio Rancho Beautiful’s annual summer awards banquet.”