Sara Melnicoff rises early every morning in the summer, and heads to a canyon on the edge of Moab’s city limits. Her two petite canine companions ride with her in an older truck that bears the name of her non-profit, Moab Solutions. Moab Solutions aims to “reduce and eliminate the waste of materials and human potential while nurturing the well-being of the natural world.”
Sara checks the parking lot, and the bathrooms. She walks down to the creek along a path she delineated to minimize human impact on the riparian ecosystem. All the while, she bags litter—cigarette butts, bottles and cans, plastic grocery bags, etc—separating it into trash and recycling. A few times per week, she walks another trail that leads to a waterfall, doing trail maintenance and picking up after less careful visitors.
“It’s a lot better than it used to be,” Sara told me one morning when I met her at the canyon.
Fifteen years ago, an area of this sensitive riparian zone was being crushed by off-road vehicles and people who were camping in the area. The vegetation was destroyed, and pounds of garbage soiled the earth. Alarmed, Sara drew attention to the damage, and as others became aware, a cooperative effort evolved between Moab Solutions, off-road enthusiasts, local law enforcement, and other government agencies.
The alliance is called Common Thread, and together they focus on preventing damage during large off-road events.
Though Sara continuous to spend many hours laboring on behalf of the canyon, she doesn’t see it as a burden, or even work. She told me,
“It’s a privilege to be able to do something to love the canyon.”
(Sara asked that I refrain from naming the canyon so as to avoid drawing more visitors to this already pressured area. So, while there are tourist guide books and other ways to learn about this lovely place, you won’t get directions from me…).