Rummaging through a pile of garbage, Kevin Walsh found a makeup kit -- hardly used -- Family Circle magazines, wine bottles, used baby diapers, stuffed animals and a discarded "City of Angels" soundtrack cassette case.
It's possible to tell a lot about people by looking at their garbage, he mused. But it wasn't as if he were rummaging through a local landfill scavenging for finds.
Walsh was in the Pine Nut Mountains just a few miles outside of Gardnerville where, perhaps to avoid the expense of landfill fees, some people travel to dispose of everything from household waste to industrial leavings.
With the Pine Nuts stretching to the east and Jobs Peak visible to the west, Walsh, president of the Pine Nut Mountain Trail Association, pointed at different types of trails used by off-road vehicles, dirt bikes, cars. But most of the trails off the road -- barely two miles from the Douglas County waste transfer station -- make aimless circles around trees to dumping areas.
Short trips on nearly any makeshift road branching off Pine Nut Road take visitors to trash heaps with everything from old cars to sleeping bags, bricks and concrete to magazines.
"If you don't have any land-use ethics, you'll take the path of least resistance," Walsh said.
The Bureau of Land Management is in the midst of updating its Pine Nut Mountain management policy and has been hosting meetings since last fall with a variety of groups interested in the future of the 400,000-acre mountain area that encompasses property in east Carson City and in Douglas and Lyon counties. Despite opposing views of what should happen in the range, Walsh said everyone in the 60-member group agrees something has to be done about illegal dumping in the Pine Nuts.
The BLM planning partners, as they are called, will meet Saturday starting between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. for a Pine Nut Mountain clean-up at the gravel pit at the end of Johnson Lane and on Pine Nut Road near the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Hopefully, a few dozen environmentally minded volunteers will join them.
"People are quick to complain about public lands, but how quick are they willing to go out and help clean them up?" Walsh asked.
The need is evident, not just in Douglas County, but along any easily accessible -- yet concealed -- public property in the mountains. East Carson's Brunswick Canyon is often home to abandoned cars, appliances and household garbage. The same goes for small canyons and draws throughout the range.
"It seems the more dumping is out there, the more people think it's a dumping spot," said Anne Henderson, who lives on Pine Nut Road and is involved in the BLM planning process. "If we can keep it cleaned up, it gives people the perspective that it's not OK. It's not pleasant to go out there and pick somebody else's trash up. Hopefully, the more the trash is picked up, the less inclined people will be to dump out there initially."
One tenet of the BLM's planning process is to examine how accessible and open the Pine Nuts should be. Walsh noted if the public enjoys using the mountains, things like illegal dumping have to stop.
Volunteers will work until four large dumpsters are filled. Walsh asked people to bring their own rakes and gloves, and if they have a truck or trailer to bring along, that would be helpful. There will be more clean-ups throughout the range throughout the year, Walsh said. The event will also help mark the 10th anniversary of National Trails Day.
IF YOU GO
What: Pine Nut Mountains Clean-up Day
When: starts between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., Saturday
Where: gravel pit at the end of Johnson Lane and near the Douglas County Fairgrounds off Pine Nut Road. Look for the garbage dumpsters.
For information, call Tom Crawford at 885-6169 or Kevin Walsh at 882-8080.