Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Table Mesa Road

Episode 11, in which destruction contains the seeds of creation.

There's this spot about 30 minutes north of Phoenix that gives access to one of the man-made lakes Arizona uses in an attempt to store water. It's the kind of place my dad used to take us when I was a kid, to camp and fish and enjoy the outdoors. The rule was, always leave the area in better condition than you found it. We used to pack out any trash we saw as well as any that we made.

So I was shocked to see how people abuse the site today. People take everything from coffee cans to coffee tables out into the desert and blow it away with all manner of guns. Then they just leave it there, along with their expended bullets and empty cartridges and shell boxes. The area is a big dry wash, and when it rains, all the water flows into the lake, carrying in every bit of toxic waste left behind.

So the place is a mass of contradiction. The beauty of the Sonoran desert astounds me, and the debris deluge turns my stomach.

You know what an artist has to do with this wealth of material.


We went out and foraged, then had a picnic near the lake, and Joe Willie Smith and I collaborated on a twig sculpture, which will probably be shot to kindling over the weekend. But you can see it here.

May 20, 2007, Update:

This video has been selected to screen at Pixelodeon!


CalypsoAZ said...

Hey Cheryl, my name is Nathan L. I am an avid shooter, BUT I pick up all my brass. I also don't bring trash to shoot at. I actually bring a wooden frame that I built and I can staple paper targets on my target frame. I was recently told by one of my co-workers about Table Mesa Rd. and all the shooting potential. I actually intend to visit Table Mesa Rd. to do two things. Fire a few rounds pick up my brass, but also to pick up others brass left behind. My question is... How did you get to that location? If you tell me I will make you a deal, I will always leave every place I go shooting at a better place when I leave! That's a PROMISE! Thank you for your time Cheryl. Nathan L. Mesa, AZ calypsoaz@cox.net

Anonymous said...

I was raised 7 miles West of Table Meas Rd and I must say I am so saddened by this picture and the fact that NO ONE cares what they do to our natural habitat. Our property was purchased by the state when they decided to add to the area of Lake Pleasant. Just as you see the destruction here, I have witnessed first hand the destruction of my childhood home by the state. I can assure you I will mostlikely never vist or take my children there do to the destruction. I would rather enjoy the pictures my parents and grandparents took along with the snapshots in my memory.
MT Ranch

Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl! My name is Kelly McFadden. I am 18 years old and I go to table mesa quite often to ride quads with my dad and sister. We always follow the rules, stay on the trails, and my dad is strict about picking up our trash. We believe that if we are going to enjoy the beauty of Table Mesa we should keep it a clean place without any sign that we camped out where we did. I am searching for topics of Environmental Issues in Arizona for my Environmental Communication class and I would love to write the paper on Table Mesa. Do you have any links to other websites that discuss the trash problems in this area? If so, it would be very helpful in writing my paper. Feel free to email me at imagine.peace6@gmail.com. Thank you so much!
Kelly McFadden

Cheryl said...

Hi Kelly!

Your dad sounds like my dad. He always insisted we leave an area nicer than we left it, so before we left we picked up all the trash we could see, even if it was left by other people.

I don't know of other web sites that discuss trash near Table Mesa Road, but here's what I do know. A reporter named Ryan Kost wrote an article called "Recapturing the Agua Fria River's oasis" for the Arizona Republic back in August or September of 2007. The article isn't online anymore, but you can probably access it by working with your local librarian.

Also around that time, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department stopped allowing motor vehicles in the area. Also on September 17, 2007 they held a public hearing at Albins Civic Center (19005 E. K-Mine Road Center in Black Canyon City - Details: (623) 374-5234) to discuss that conservation area and appropriate uses for it. So I bet you could acquire the minutes from that meeting, plus any follow up that has happened, by contacting the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department. Also check with your librarian to see if the county records are available for your research.

I summed that all up in an article on my own web site.

If you do write your paper on Table Mesa, I'd really love to see it.

Warm regards!


(posted and mailed)

Anonymous said...

There is going to be a cleanup tomorrow. I probably will go. I shoot there and on pioneer rd. as well. We always pick up our leftovers. We know better.

Anonymous said...

glad to find something about TMR, I'll be going on Saturday and make sure to leave it as is.

Amber said...

Great post. My husband mountain bikes in Black Canyon and finds the same mess from people shooting and leaving their brass (and other trash) behind. While I support the idea of people being able to use their guns, I guess I also worry about mountain bikers and hikers encountering gunshot in undesignated areas.

Anonymous said...

I recently went mountain biking off of Table Mesa. I was appalled to see the amount of litter, shells and complete lack of safety by the shooters. I also shoot occasionally but pick up after myself. I hate to say it but they need to close this place down for shooting. If you can’t use it responsibly then they shouldn’t have access to it.