I started the weekly Things You Find series to highlight some of the funny things that I find during my exploration of the deserts and forests. At first, I had an archive of photos to depict some of these humorous finds – like a toy SUV in the forest near Leadville, Colorado.
Let’s be honest. We are all human, so we have all forgotten something while packing up at a campsite. These occasional forgetful moments can be compensated for by other campers, because many campers are responsible stewards of the land and clean up anything that they find.
Unfortunately, as I have been spending more time in the desert lately, it seems that I am finding fewer humorous finds and a lot more intentional dumping. This is reflected in the weekly Things You Find post as I can only photograph what I actually find.
Today’s photo depicts the remnants of a demolished mobile home in the desert near Ehrenberg, Arizona. Aside from being perhaps the worst pile of trash that I have ever seen on public land, this debris pile is all the worse as it was the government that made it and then left it there in the desert.
The BLM-managed desert land here in Ehrenberg is popular with snowbirds as the 14-day camping rule is not strictly enforced – unlike in nearby Quartzsite. As a result, it is not uncommon to find people staying here for longer than 14 days, and to occasionally even find people who have set up a desert homestead.
Apparently this demolished mobile home was brought into the desert by someone who was using it as a permanent dwelling. The mobile home was demolished by the government as it was an illegal dwelling on public lands, though local lore differs on whether it was BLM or La Paz County that demolished the structure as part of a “clean up” operation. For reasons that are entirely unclear, whichever government agency demolished the mobile home decided to leave the mess in the desert rather than trucking it to a landfill for proper disposal.
Distressing as this one pile of junk is, it is even more problematic because it sits near the entrance to the BLM-managed area with dispersed camping. Every visitor to this desert area drives past this pile of trash which is plainly visible from the road. It is hard to convince users of public land that dumping waste is not acceptable when the government also does so in such a blatant and visible manner.
Please take care of our public lands and do not treat them as a free dumping ground. Wilderness areas are a treasure for everyone to enjoy, not a place to conveniently dispose of junk that you no longer want or need.