In an effort to beautify the Carpenter Natural Area, friends and neighbors from throughout Cortez donned gloves and set off with trash bags in all directions on the preserve Saturday morning.
It was the first meeting and event of the newly formed Friends of Carpenter Natural Area, a community organization recognized by the Cortez Parks and Recreation Department and the Cortez Police Department.
Roughly 25 people turned out to help Saturday morning.
The group was started by Teri Paul, a seven-year Cortez resident who lives adjacent to the preserve.
“It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and the number of people who came out to show they care about Carpenter,” Paul said.
Cortez Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist and others spoke before the cleanup about what to look for on the trails.
A representative from the police department passed out neighborhood watch signs to be posted at the area’s various trail heads.
The group also posted “no camping” signs throughout the area.
According to Paul, the area has seen a rise in littering, habitat destruction and damage to trails. There were also incidents last year involving open campfires.
Volunteers cleaned up from 10 a.m. to noon, filling trash bags with liter. The bags were eventually loaded into a city dump truck and hauled away.
According to a parks department fact sheet, the original land for the reserve was donated to the city by the Carpenter family in 1993 with the sole intention of it being used as a natural area, public park or wildlife sanctuary.
The city then purchased an additional 80 acres of the Geer property, 60 of which is designated as a nature preserve.
The city also purchased an adjacent 50 acre conservation easement in 2017.
The 180 acre parcel currently has over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Friends of Carpenter Natural Area will function as a neighborhood watch group to offer support for care of the preserve and to “promote the preservation and protection of the Carpenter Natural Area under the original intent and guidelines of the 1993 gift of the Carpenter Preserve to the City and the Keith Evans 2017 Conservation Easement.”
Mayor Mike Lavey and his wife participated in the cleanup Saturday.
“It went really well,” Lavey said. “It was a great event.”