Colin Sauter was already in the habit of evacuating an average of 50,000 pounds of litter a year from the Morongo Basin by himself, when Joshua Tree National Park shut down due to the pandemic. He had even scrubbed off the graffiti on Giant Rock at one point. So, of course, when the Joshua Tree National Park was helpless to maintain sanitation efforts, Colin Sauter and family came to the rescue. He could be found cleaning park bathrooms and picking up and hauling trash out of the sacred park using his personal vehicle and paying dump fees out of his own pocket. Having put a name to this effort, Sauter put the call out:
“My mission is to work with the community and clean up our local environment, not only for Joshua Tree, but for the Morongo Basin. During the shutdown, many became passionate for the need to step up and help the National Park, but it doesn’t have to stop there. In the short two weeks since I started this project, I helped with the cleaning of the National Park, Giant Rock, and the Joshua Tree Dry Lakebed. I plan to continue my efforts and hopefully inspire others to hopefully get out and do something for their community. I will not stop! I have started to gain sponsors, and I have found volunteers that are just as dedicated and passionate as I am. Now is the time to keep the Desert Cleanse Project going. Why be part of the problem when you can be part of the solution. Are you in?”
A former fireman, a fiercely loving husband, and an avid dirt play enthusiast, Sauter is deeply respected and appreciated by those who have worked with him. When Colin Sauter puts the word out, a determined gathering answer. They consist of mostly fellow offroad enthusiasts and one very special cookie lady. In a matter of hours, they clean up thousands of pounds of trash that Sauter will then take to the dump. The community he has gathered in recent months has reclaimed 11,000 pounds of debris in Yucca Valley and Acoma Hills, and with the help of the sheriff’s department, an astonishing 22,000 pounds at the Joshua Tree Lakebed. 93 illegally dumped tires were also disposed of properly.