Cleanup At Cajon Junction

PHOTO: T.A. Graydon - NewsPlus

Cleanup at Cajon Junction was strongly fortified with volunteers from Carpenters Union Local 909 who joined forces with the High Desert Keepers and their dedicated organization.

Saturday morning, March 11, 2023, Danny Garcia, Founder of Disabled Senior Veterans (DSV) Nonprofit, and a group of volunteers from the Carpenter’s Union 909 joined up with Scott Brown and volunteers from the nonprofit group High Desert Keepers to clean up the garbage below the South-bound on-ramp to Interstate 15 off CA-138.

Scott Brown of the High Desert Keepers leads the charge on the Southwest corner of the 138 and I-15 Freeway Cleanup at Cajon Junction.

En route to the event, Highway 138 through Mormon Rocks was icy and cold, yet beautiful in its snow-bound glory. Starting promptly at 9:00 am, a quick photo survey of the scene was in order before joining the group of two to three dozen volunteers. From behind the gas station/sandwich shop, the lower parking lot into the Cajon wash was buzzing with orange safety-vest-clad people. Most were hard at work removing trash left behind or discarded without remorse by Cajon pass travelers. Volunteers quickly loaded up the dumpsters and trash receptacles the High Desert Keepers provided. Others were donning gloves and toting fresh trash bags down the muddy path into the wash, removing anything they could find, from old tires to plain old rubbish. What the group accomplished in the first half of an hour was amazing. Their collective efforts had already manicured the top portion of the parking area. A never-ending duty, these efforts do lead to satisfying results. The on-ramp is now much more visually appealing to motorists on Interstate 15. Jacob Kleespies, President of Carpenter’s Union 909, is happy to be out here with his union brothers and the High Desert Keepers taking care of this remote corner of Phelan, CA. “This is our backyard.” It is important!” He explained while handing out another extra-large disposal bag to volunteer Celeste Woodruff. Keeping our high desert neighborhood clean is more than just picking up trash. Celeste refers to it as “Cleaning up the misfortune of others.”

Volunteers dispose anything from broken car parts to old muddy clothes into the dumpsters. In the background is a busy Interstate 15.
High Desert Keepers Photographer Scott Brown and Journalist Wendy Walker on a break from the cleanup effort in front of the fully equipped cleanup trailer.

Celeste and her husband Joseph have been participating in the High Desert Keepers beautification programs since hearing about them in High School. The satisfaction of volunteer work can only be felt by actually doing it, and what a great feeling it is to stand back and look at what you have accomplished. For a job well done, lunch was provided by Phelan’s own Down Town Burgers and Pizza Factory after a successful day in the Cajon Pass.

The High Desert Keepers have collected over 1.5 million pounds of trash (750 tons) with cleanup projects like Operation Buckwheat, Phelan Square, Malpaso, and now Cajon Junction. Always looking for volunteers, Danny Garcia and DSV NONPROFIT (760-900-8686) and Scott Brown with the High Desert Keepers (760)-792-7399 need people of all ages to participate in these open-air, surprisingly fun, all expenses paid (all gloves, trash-bags, waters, snacks, etc. are provided) events. They also have been thoughtful enough to bring a porta-potty. Pride of ownership is a great thing, and the high desert is our backyard. Let’s own it!

Cleanup volunteers focus on the southbound on-ramp to the I-15 Freeway.

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