Free pizza and beverages stoked up volunteers and staff about 1 p.m. for litter clean up Friday (July 23) at the U.S. Hill rest stop on State Road 518 before afternoon rain showers cut the day short from the planned 8-mile route to Peñasco.

Some 20 to 40 Taoseños, including Taos County Commission (Dist. 5) Chair Candyce O'Donnell, variously stuck around through monsoonal showers for as long as they could.

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative organized the clean up. Michael Santistevan, KCEC's Public Relations agent, smiled wryly as the rain began to fall Friday about 1:30 p.m., noting they will do litter clean up in the morning and serve lunch afterward when the next clean up is scheduled in the fall.

Dedicated Taoseños, plus employees of Taos County Public Works, U.S. Forest Service, Solid Waste and NM Department of Transportation all hung in and cleared culverts and the road side of State Road 518, starting at U.S. Hill and moving toward Peñasco.

Lorenzo Gutierrez, Solid Waste Code Enforcement, said by phone Tuesday (July 27) "a few hardcore volunteers stayed, plus the Kit Carson crew. They called it off about 2 p.m., but it was amazing. It took me two days to dry off.

"It just felt good to be outdoors, away from this COVID stuff, you know?" Gutierrez said about everyone's upbeat attitude. Since the Earth Day clean up April 22, he said he's noticed roads to be much better maintained, less trash overall. "All in all, we're putting a dent in it."

Another county litter removal is scheduled for the fall and all the county crews and companies will again be partnered up with county residents. "It's all about teaching our young kids to respect and care for the land," Gutierrez said. "And it's working."

For more information, contact KCEC, 118 Cruz Alta Road; call 575-758-2258 or email

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