SAEMS Trash & Bash

SAEMS provides opportunities to help improve the quality of the environment directly by participating in and offering various activities. Our Trash & Bash Committee schedules several different types of clean-up activities for the Southern Arizona Region: Adopt-A-Highway, Wildcat Dump or Undocumented Migrant Dump Clean-up, Santa Cruz River Bottle Jams to remove debris that clogs the watercourse, and park clean-ups. Event Coordinators provide equipment for clean-ups to volunteers who participate. We thank our volunteers with prizes and lunches that follow the activity.

SAEMS Trash & Bash Calendar

January 2018

February 2018
March 2018


14 – Adopt A Highway


SAEMS Adopt-A-Highway

SAEMS has adopted a beautiful mile along I-10 just east of the Sonoita Highway exit. Volunteers pick up trash on a quarterly basis. After the cleanup, SAEMS treats all the volunteers to lunch at a local restaurant.

SAEMS Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup

Meeting Location:  Commuter parking lot just off of the Sonoita exit from I-10 (exit #281).

Time:  8:00 a.m. sharp.  We will leave the parking area by 8:10 after the safety meeting.

SAEMS Mile:  One mile stretch of highway east of the Sonoita exit.

Restrictions:  Volunteers must be 12 years of age or older and if under 18, accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What to Wear:  Wear long pants, long sleeves, closed toe shoes, hat and sunscreen.

SAEMS Provides:  SAEMS will provide safety vests, leather gloves, litter grabbers and collection bags. Also bottled water and snacks will be available.

Lunch:  SAEMS will host a lunch after the cleanup.  A prize will be given for the most interesting treasure found.

RSVP:  Event coordinator is Derek Sizemore at

SAFETY:  The safety of SAEMS volunteers is of utmost importance.  A safety briefing is conducted prior to each cleanup.  In addition, please go to the ADOT Adopt A Highway website at and review volunteer information under the Volunteer tab and watch the Safety Briefing video under the Safety tab.

ADOT News Article Quotes SAEMS Volunteer Barb Ricca

See the ADOT Press Release by clicking here: ADOT Press Release – Adopt a Highway Program

ADOT Recognizes SAEMS Adopt a Highway Volunteers

June 2013: Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently recognized the SAEMS Adopt a Highway volunteer group for cleaning up litter for more than a decade and for logging hundreds of hours picking up more than three tons of trash. See the ADOT press release below.

ADOT Press Release - SAEMS Adopt a Hwy


Past Cleanups

SAEMS Volunteers at State Land Wildcat Dump Cleanup Event
On April 30, 2016, several SAEMS members (Derek Koller, B.J. Cordova, Ken Asch, Pat Hartshorne, Jeremy Rosenthal, plus Louis Braun from Terracon) joined more than 60 other volunteers at a wildcat dump cleanup on Arizona State Land at Groves Park, near Kolb & Irvington Roads. This area consists of approximately 85 acres of desert land next to a neighborhood park and surrounded by homes. SAEMS had previously helped clean up dumping at this site about a decade ago. State Lands has nearly blocked vehicle access to the site to help reduce future dumping. Volunteers quickly filled the three 30-yard roll-off containers with trash, ending the cleanup early.

April 2015 Highway Cleanup Report
Did you forget?  That’s OK, we enjoyed perfect weather on Saturday April 25, 2015 as the SAEMS loyal & faithful volunteers completed our last highway trash cleanup along I-10 before the summer break. The Team found numerous treasures along with 17 bags of trash and several tires during our morning trash hunt. Most “unique” was Ken’s find of the recently shed skin of a rarely seen Sonoran Hoop Snake! The theme of the day related to beverage consumption as we found a cup holder, can koozie, and an unopened beer can – See what you’re missing! Mike Block was voted the best find with a valuable blue-tooth antenna (see it attached to his hat in the photo) and won the Starbuck’s gift card. Barb, Ken, Mike, Al & Dan enjoyed a great meal afterward at the Vail Steakhouse. Next pickup is late September, so think about joining us. Always looking for new faces – try and support SAEMS by spending one morning each year with us.

Volunteers in the photo are (left-right); Al Jorissen (Mike's cousin), Mike Block, Barb Ricca, Ken Asch (Dan Williams taking the photo)

February 2015 Highway Cleanup Report
Our SAEMS volunteers defended the environment once again by collecting trash, tires, and treasures along our SAEMS’ 1-mile stretch of I-10 on February 28, 2015.  Fortunately the wind held off until we were nearly complete, as there were 14 bags of trash, plus tires and other large items pulled from the desert. Found items include a cane, hubcap, Frisbee, hat, and eyeglasses. The winner of the Starbucks Gift Card is Ken Asch who found a modified flashlight, which some called a “Peace-Pipe.” The next event is scheduled for Saturday April 25, 2015 at 8 AM. Make it your goal to attend just one trash pickup a year – you too can be a defender of the environment!

Volunteers in the photo are (left-right);  Pat Harrington, Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, Pat Hartshorne, Ryan & Jeff Christensen (Dan Williams taking the photo)

November 2014 Highway Cleanup Report
The SAEMS faithful volunteers completed our trash pickup along I-10 on November 8, 2014, collecting 19 bags of trash and 2 tires on a beautiful but windy day. In honor of Veteran's Day, Ken Asch saved an American flag from the elements, while the team found several metal objects, a set of rubber O-rings, and a couple of toys. The winning item was the parking sign from O'Malley's, found by Dan Williams. Everyone enjoyed a hearty meal at the Vail Steakhouse afterwards.

Why not consider joining us on one Saturday in 2015 as an easy New Year's resolution to complete - new faces are very welcome! Join us at the next pickup on the morning of February 14, 2014...will we find hearts? Please contact the event coordinator, Dan Williams, at if you would like to volunteer or if you have any questions.

Left: Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, Heather and Olivia Shoemaker, Al Jorissen (Mike's cousin), Mike Block (Dan Williams is behind the camera)
Right: Prize finds


September 2014 Highway Cleanup Report
The SAEMS team battled strong wind gusts while collecting trash on September 13, 2014 along our stretch of I-10, just past the Sonoita exit. It was a true team effort and 21 bags of trash along with numerous car parts were collected. The winning “treasures” found included a glass prism that may possess magical powers (Olivia), and enough parts to assemble a partial demolition derby car (Barb and Mike). We all enjoyed a brunch at Vail Steak House as a reward for our efforts. Thanks to Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, Heather Shoemaker and daughter Olivia, Mike Block, Pat Harrington, and Dan Williams. Our next “trash-social” is scheduled for November 8, 2014 and we would really like to see a couple new faces join the fun! Please contact the event coordinator, Dan Williams, at if you would like to volunteer or if you have questions.

Heather and Olivia Shoemaker, Mike Block, Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, and Pat Harrington

April 2014 Highway Cleanup Report
On April 18th, 2014, a team of nine dedicated SAEMS members and their families cleaned up the adopted mile of Interstate 10 near the Sonoita exit. Volunteers included Mike Dieckhaus and son Drew, Heather Shoemaker and daughter Olivia, Derek and Tanya Koller, Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, and Dan Williams. A total of 26 bags of trash were collected along the highway, at the parking area and at the on-ramp. The Starbucks prize gift card went to Ken for his unique find. The next cleanup will be in September. Thanks to all our volunteers and have a safe, happy summer.

Back: Ken Asch, Derek and Tanya Koller, and Mike and Drew Dieckhaus. Front: Barb Ricca and Olivia and Heather Shoemaker.

February 2014 Highway Cleanup Report
On Saturday, February 15, 2014, the loyal SAEMS highway cleanup crew was again doing our part along the adopted stretch of Interstate-10. The beautiful weather made the morning fly by too quickly. SEAMS members participating were Marianne Zelonis, Mike Block, Derek Koller, Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, and Dan Williams (see photos below). A total of 16 bags of trash were collected, along with some tires and a nearly useable chair! Ken won the prize for most interesting find with a serviceable multi-tool, but Derek deserved honorable mention for at least the unique story behind his find (ask him about the Ant pyramid). The group enjoyed lunch at the Vail Steak House after the cleanup.

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The SAEMS February Adopt A Highway Volunteers
More roadside "treasures" – always something new and different


December 2013 Highway Cleanup Report
On Saturday December 14th, 2013, the devoted SAEMS volunteers completed the quarterly highway litter cleanup along our stretch of I-10 near the Sonoita exit. Participants included Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, Pat Harrington, Dan Williams, Mike Block, and Mike’s cousin Al Jorissen. We cleaned up 18 bags of litter and several tires along the highway. Everyone enjoyed breakfast/lunch at the Vail Steak House afterward. The winning roadside "treasure" was a unique hunters’ hat found by Pat, and he won the Starbucks card.

September 2013 Highway Cleanup Report
On Saturday September 21, 2013, the SAEMS faithful enjoyed a nice sunny day while conducting the highway litter cleanup along our stretch of I-10 near the Sonoita exit. Participants included Michael Dieckhaus and daughter Laurel, Marianne Zelonis, Derek Koller, Barb Ricca, Ken Asch, Dawn & Charles Weyer, and Dan Williams. We cleaned up 26 bags of litter and a number of tires along the road and around the commuter parking lot. The team enjoyed breakfast/lunch at the Vail Steak House afterward. The roadside had limited “treasures” this month but Michael found a complete set of bike repair wrenches and won the Starbucks card. Ken found a $5 bill, which is a prize in itself!



April 2013 Highway Cleanup Report
On April 13th, a group of six SAEMS members and their families cleaned up the adopted mile of Interstate 10 near the Sonoita exit. The 11 volunteers included Ken Asch and son Nathan, Barb Ricca and daughter Amanda, Dawn Weyer and husband Charles, Derek Koller, Michael Block, and Heather Spitzer and husband Alex and son Tyler.

A total of 23 bags of trash were collected along the highway, at the parking area and at the on-ramp. The Starbucks prize gift card went to Alex, who found a $5 bill. Honorable mention went to Nathan Asch, who found about 40 small cannon balls (or were they equipment from a mine?). The next cleanup will not be until fall, the second weekend in September. Have a happy summer.

February 2013 Highway Cleanup Report
On February 23, 2013 the weather was just perfect for our highway cleanup. 28 bags of trash were collected by 10 SAEMS members and their families: Ken Asch, Michael Dieckhaus (and daughter Laurel), Derek Koller, Lorena Leal's husband Eplain and son Joel, Barb Ricca, Dawn Weyer (and husband Charles), and Dan Williams. While Lorena could not attend herself, we thank her for sending her family. In addition to our mile of I-10, we were able to clean the parking area and the on-ramp area. Joel won the Starbucks gift card for finding an excellent condition life preserver (who needs this in the middle of the desert?). Barb found a full, unopened bottle of Vodka (charcoal filtered) but the group did not share the bottle at our TTT lunch.


November 2012 Highway Cleanup Report
On Saturday Nov. 17, a few dedicated SAEMS volunteers completed our quarterly highway cleanup.   In a first for SAEMS, the cleanup had been rained out the weekend before.   The cleanup was lead by Dan Williams.  Thanks for stepping up to the task, Dan.   Other volunteers included:  Ken Asch, Dawn Weyer, Marianne Zelonis, Lorena Leal and her son, Joel.   This was the first highway cleanup for Marianne and Lorena.   Thanks for both our new and "old" volunteers.  16 bags of trash were collected from along the highway and in the parking area.   Marianne won the Starbucks card for finding a set of aluminum knuckles.  The next highway cleanup is scheduled for Sat. Feb. 9, 2013.

September Highway Cleanup
On an overcast day with wind, cool temperatures and light rain showers, the SAEMS crew completed our quarterly highway cleanup.   It was quite a challenge keeping the trash bags open under the windy conditions.   Since we had not done a cleanup since spring, there was an incredible amount of shredded tire pieces - rubber and steel belts.   Anna Christensen (Jeff's daughter) won the Starbucks gift card prize for the best "find".   She found three mud flaps and a roll of fencing.   Ken Asch got second place for his space ship parts including:  an electronic controls gizmo and powerful stun light.  A total of 22 bags of trash were collected.     Attendees were:  Ken Asch, Heather Shoemaker, Dan Williams, Barb Ricca, and Jeff Christensen with his two children Ryan and Anna.   The next highway cleanup is planned for the 2nd Sat. in November, 11/10/12.


February Highway Cleanup
On February 11th, a Saturday with perfect early spring weather, the SAEMS highway litter cleanup crew was hard at work.   A total of 9 volunteers cleaned the SAEMS adopted mile of Interstate-10.  Weighing about 500 pounds, 24 bags of litter were collected.  SAEMS volunteers included:   Ken Asch, Barb Ricca, Dan Williams, Michael Dieckhaus (and daughter Laurel), Mike Block (and cousin Al).  Joining us were two Tetra Tech employees:  Nick Cristi and Terra Michaels.  The group enjoyed breakfast at TTT after the cleanup.  Mike Block won the $10 Starbucks gift card for finding a pretty princess tea set complete with 4 cups/saucers (light pink, dark pink, blue and white) and a beautiful tea pot.  The men enjoyed a tea party in the TTT parking lot.




On a windy and very cold day, nine dedicated volunteers tackled the I-10 December 10th highway cleanup.   SAEMS participants were:  Ken Asch, Mike Block, Michael Dieckhaus (and daughter Laurel), Barb Ricca and Dan Williams.   In addition, three U of A students helped:  Katherine Weingartner, Rebecca Veach and Nicholas Zehrbach.   Lunch at the TTT truck stop was enjoyed by all.  A total of 28 bags (about 600 pounds) of trash were collected.   Barb won the prize for finding and freeing a small lizard from an reusable, insulated coffee cup.    The next cleanup will be Sat. February, 11, 2012.   Please mark your calendar and plan to join us.


On Sat. Sept. 10th a SAEMS highway cleanup was held along our adopted of Interstate 10.   The cleanup effort was lead by Heather Shoemaker.   The following SAEMS members participated:  Mike Block, Michael Dieckhaus (and daughter Laurel), Bill Ellett (and wife Kay) and Heather.    A total of 24 bags of trash were collected.   Heather won the prize for most interesting find... a butcher knife and a wedding video.   The group enjoyed lunch at the TTT restaurant after the cleanup.   Mark you calendar and joins us for the next highway cleanup on Sat. Nov. 12th.  More information will follow in a future News Flash.


SAEMS Community Cleanup Day: Snyder Hill

Saturday, October 8, 2011 made for a beautiful day cleaning up illegal dumping, loose litter and buffelgrass in the desert just north of Snyder Hill, a BLM-owned section of land southwest of Tucson near Ajo Way and San Joaquin Rd. It started as a cool, crisp morning and as we got working it continued to warm up gradually but stayed relatively comfortable the entire time! We were able to completely fill a dumpster of trash (estimated 11.37 tons of waste, including quite a bit of buffelgrass!).

SAEMS members in attendance included B.J. Cordova, Barb Ricca, Eric Fritz, Ken Asch, Michael Dieckhaus and daughter Lauren. Additional participants included Caroline Patrick who is working with Tucson Clean & Beautiful on buffelgrass education and volunteer activities and provided a brief demonstration on buffelgrass removal techniques; Al Mezzano, from the Bureau of Land Management; Steve Buntz, a neighbor, stopped by and helped for a short time after walking by with his wife and dog and seeing us in action; and another neighbor, Maureen Cunningham, also stopped by briefly to talk about the possibility of forming an ongoing cleanup group in the area!

Special appreciation to Southwest Hazard Control for providing a dumpster and hauling services, Tucson Tractor Co. for donating the use of a loader which Eric Fritz maneuvered throughout the project, and Pima County Department of Environmental Quality for waiving tipping fees to enable us to do this project! Your partnership helps to make these projects possible!

The most interesting find of the day was awarded to Barb Ricca, who received a Bookmans gift certificate for finding a giant "dinosaur bone" and a toy concrete mixer truck. (The runner-up: Eric's early find, two toilets! There was also a stray hat from a soccer club in Mexico). After the project, a few of us dined at Los Nopales Restaurant on Kinney Rd. in Tucson Estates. Everyone else missed out on a fun cleanup project and a delicious lunch including a chicken & green chile cheese crisp! Hope to see you at the next community cleanup day.


SAEMS River Cleanup

The SAEMS river cleanup project was a success! At the Drexel Rd. dead-end in Midvale Park, SAEMS volunteers found themselves in a small side channel outfall into the Santa Cruz River, filled with plenty of litter to clean up - and a full complement of thorny trees to work through so that no volunteer left unscratched. A pile of yard debris was removed from the wash as well as 24 bags of litter and 3 shopping carts. Graffiti was also painted over on the wash walls and tunnel just west of where the litter was removed. All of this litter and debris was removed from a very concentrated area, only about 400 feet long and 100 feet wide, where litter collects from a mile-long neighborhood drainage. Ken Asch and Mike Block shared the "most interesting litter item" award, finding the front of a small guitar.

After the cleanup project, volunteers enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch at Mariscos Chihuahua, ompliments of SAEMS.

Special thanks to the City of Tucson and Tucson Clean & Beautiful for providing litter bags and arranging follow-up for removal of the items collected; and to the nine dedicated volunteers, all SAEMS members and their family:

  • Ken Asch
  • Mike Block
  • Jeff Christensen + son Ryan
  • B.J. Cordova
  • Michael Dieckhaus + children Laurel and Drew
  • Barb Ricca

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Stay tuned for another SAEMS community cleanup project this fall! We'll continue rotating among river cleanup, illegal dumping cleanup, and migrant waste cleanup days as we become aware of needs in our region.


On Saturday November 13th, an absolutely perfect morning for cleaning litter, SAEMS completed the final highway cleanup for 2010.   A total of 30 bags of trash were collected.   Volunteers included:  

  • Ken Asch,
  • Heather Shoemaker,
  • Barb Ricca,
  • Michael Dieckhaus and daughter Laurel,
  • Dawn Weyer and husband Charles,
  • Craig Boudle, wife Joan and daughter Brittany.  

The prize for the best find went to Laurel who found a cheerleading pompom.

2010-11 highway 1.jpg

2010-11 highway 2.jpg


Past Wildcat Dump Cleanup

On Saturday, October 16, 2010 a total of 26 people helped to clean up Nogales-Old Vail Connection Rd. from the wash west of Country Club Rd. to just west of Swan Rd. A total of just over 6 tons of trash was removed in two dumpsters, with ONLY 30 tires collected this time (compared to a couple hundred last time, and over 1,200 with the neighborhood about two years ago). The area is looking MUCH better, and it is hoped that with continued follow-up between neighborhood and community volunteers, local landowners, community groups and government agencies that this area will not ever return to the same miserably dirty condition that it was in just a few short months ago and will in fact be improved even more over time!

After the cleanup project a delicious buffet lunch was enjoyed by many of the volunteers at El Doradito Mexican Restaurant on Park Ave. near Fair St. north of Irvington Rd.

Nine members of Southern Arizona Environmental Management Society helped with the project including: Barbara Ricca, Ken Asch, Mike Dieckhaus (plus Laurel Anne), Pamela Beilke, Dawn Weyer (plus Charles), B.J. Cordova, Bob Peshak, Dave Giles, and Jeff Bauer (plus Chad).

Additional community volunteers included:Ngoc Gip, Nancy McKinney, Karina DuPont, Myron Dehaven, Francisca Lira (with PRO neighborhoods) and her family plus several neighbors in the Summit View-Old Nogales neighborhood vicinity who helped clean up the next wash west of Country Club Rd. from where SAEMS members were working.

Special thanks to our project partners: Bob Peshak and Dave Giles from PSC, for providing the dumpsters and hauling service to remove the waste collected by volunteers; Myron Dehaven, owner of Sondown Hauling who was driving down Swan Rd. and saw our project in action on Saturday morning and brought his loader back to assist!

BRAVO for your spontaneous volunteer service contribution to this project. Eric Fritz, who was unable to attend this time but provided bags and gloves on behalf of Southwest Hazard Control for the project; Tucson Clean & Beautiful, for providing road signs, cones and reflective vests on loan; Pima County Department of Environmental Quality - Solid Waste Division, for waiving the tipping fees for disposal of trash from the dumpsters; Pima County Illegal Dumping inspections, and Adult Probation, for their efforts in cleaning up additional dumping around the area both prior to and immediately following this project;  City of Tucson Transportation Department, Streets & Traffic maintenance Division for removal and disposal of additional material along Country Club Rd. and Old Vail Rd. that would not fit inside the dumpsters





SAEMS, P.O.Box 41433, Tucson, AZ 85717