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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 12:41 PM

High Desert Grange Cleans Lahontan Dam State Park Campground

High Desert Grange Cleans Lahontan Dam State Park Campground
High Desert Grange Clean up Crew

Author: Courtesy High Desert Grange

Once every year the High Desert Grange chooses a large community service project that benefits the residents of Churchill County.  This year’s project was the Lahontan Dam State Park Campground Cleanup that took place from Friday, July 31 through Sunday, August 2.   

Grangers brought their own cleanup tools and began campsite set up on Friday.  Guest speakers from the Nevada Outdoor School featured their Leave No Trace program, a hands-on activity that teaches the seven basic rules of enjoying the outdoors responsibly.  This was the only event open to the public.   

While some people stayed the entire weekend, others joined in during the days.  Saturday found Grangers on their mission to clean up the park’s campground.  Grange member Taylor Reynolds, who works for the park, focused on clearing the hiking trail and showed families what needed to be done.  Participants removed dead wood, cleared, and pruned trees, and raked the trail.  Once their work was accomplished for the day, everyone headed back to camp where the youth took advantage of the downtime to swim in the lake and collect toads. 

At noon, Grange instructors taught eager students how to construct five bat houses and six Wood Duck boxes.  Four of the boxes were given to the rangers to place in the park.  The bat houses are available from the Grange for a donation. 

Thirteen-year-old Riggin Stonebarger and his family live just up the dirt road from the park.  When asked what he liked best about the weekend, he said, “It was neat to give back right here.  My favorite part about our cleanup weekend was that we were able to come together to help our local dam and camping facility become a safer and healthy place, not just for humans but for animals, too.  With the drought, this year and the low, low lake levels, ensuring that the wildlife has safe places is really important.”  In addition to camping, working, and playing the entire weekend, Riggin found himself reuniting with many families he had not seen for some time.   

Next on the Grange agenda was an evening of Dutch oven potluck.  All families came together to enjoy each other’s company and taste the culinary gifts of family cooks.   

On Sunday morning, Grangers continued cutting and clearing dead branches and raking the trail.  Park rangers had given several canoes to the group to use.  Needless to say, canoes, lake, and play were rolled into one exhilarating activity.  Campsite clean up and pack up followed.   

While community service is a hallmark of the Grange, having fun while contributing is embedded in the Grange psyche. Alena Vest, mother of sixteen-year-old Dakota, fourteen-year-old Brook, and eleven-year-old Jaylee, participated in the cleanup because she wanted to teach her children that it’s good to help out others. In addition to lending their hands to help, Dakota liked floating down the river, Brook enjoyed swimming at the lake and hanging out with everybody, and Jaylee loved it all a lot. 

Making new friends while working to improve our community is very important for Grange members.  The Chris and Tara Byrne family, new Grange members, had the opportunity to weave new friendships into their lives as they worked side-by-side with other Grangers.  Eight-year-old Caoilainn, eight-year-old Deaglan, seven-year-old Tiernan, and four-year-old Lochlan were pleased to hang with a group of people they call family as they know this group will always be there for them.  Caoilainn was asked what she enjoyed best about the cleanup weekend.  She said she “enjoyed making the trail cleaner,” and Deaglan replied to the same question with we “had a lot of fun catching toads with friends.”  When asked why she chose to involve her family in the cleanup weekend, Tara said, “We enjoy helping out our new-found family.  It’s important for my husband and me to get the kids involved in things that matter and to surround them with people who are kind, loving, and strong.” 

This year’s camp cleanup project was a testament to how giving back reaps positive rewards. A job well done that benefits the community, fun time, making friends, educational opportunities, connecting with old friends, challenging activities, and enjoyment of one another, young and old.  Perhaps Granger Snow Morrison said it best: “I enjoy the family atmosphere of Grange.  If someone needs something, they just ask and there is usually someone that has it or can help.” 

For more information on The High Desert Grange or to inquire about a bat house donation, contact [email protected] or call (775) 427-8210.