Tread Lightly! and onX Offroad Clean Up Public Lands in Arizona

Tread Lightly! team
A small yet mighty crew tackles the wind and heaps of trash littering our public lands.

Off-Roaders Aren’t Bad Apples

For years, trail cleanup efforts led by the motorized community have been serving outdoor users far beyond their type. Adventurers like hikers, snowshoers, and hunters also benefit from the sweat and gears of off-roader’s do-goodery. Motorized adventurers are all too familiar with being the easy targets to blame for trail destruction, but that narrative needs a shift. What’s often not realized is the power that this community has to offer. Their vehicles are able to get way deeper into our public lands and their knowhow of rigging and hauling unlocks the ability to carry out macro trash like old appliances, mattresses, dumped vehicles, and other random pieces of junk. How that drift boat landed 27 miles into the national forest with no lake around, we’ll never know, but it needs to be removed. The motorized community can do it – and they’re willing.

Tread Lightly! hauling away trash from public lands
Volunteers of the Silver Creek Road cleanup use their off-road vehicles for hauling out junk. Photo courtesy of Tread Lightly!

Sharing Values with Tread Lightly!

Our friends at Tread Lightly! have been leading stewardship projects and education since 1985. What was originally founded by the Forest Service as a campaign to address impacts from off-roaders, evolved into an established non-profit in 1990. Since then, Tread Lightly! has been a champion for responsible recreation, a way of adventure that we at onX also stand passionately in favor of. 

At onX, our DNA holds deep roots in access and stewardship work, including philanthropy, data reporting, and communications that serve to protect the outdoor experiences we all cherish. We also know that conserving the health of our trails takes a collaboration of strengths from businesses, government agencies, organizations, recreation groups, and individuals. We believe it’s our responsibility as a company to mobilize the strengths we have to support conservation of the places we wouldn’t want to live without. 

Therefore, partnering with Tread Lightly! is an easy decision for us to make. They’re the do-ers, with a tally of 100+ trail stewardship project completions in 2022 alone. 

Trash strewn trailside.
Trash comes in all sizes – micro and macro.

The Project

onX helped fund the recent cleanup event on Silver Creek Road in Bullhead City, Arizona on November 19, 2022. In collaboration with the BLM Field Office of Kingman, Tread Lightly! identified this as a key project that had previously lacked funding and resources. Then, they got to work. 

Seven volunteers along with representatives from BLM and AZ Game and Fish gathered to clean up the area. Through rough weather, this small but mighty crew removed 4,220 pounds of trash from our public lands. They scoured five miles of extended road corridor and hauled out the usual array of disgusting treasures, like old tires, target shooting debris, household items, and furniture.

Organizing large scale cleanups can be a complex task. Our Cleanup Guide provides tips and guidelines, including anticipated costs for trash disposal, often the crux of the event. At onX, we know that funding cleanup infrastructure like dumpsters, as non-glorious as that may be, is often a critical green-light needed to run a cleanup. Sign us up!

“Despite an incredibly windy day, this great group of volunteers did an amazing amount of positive work for BLM and the off-road community,” said Matt Caldwell, Executive Director at Tread Lightly! “Giving back like this is key in keeping our public lands open to motorized recreation for years to come.” 

Ford Bronco and Tread Lightly! picking up trash
Matt Caldwell, Executive Director of Tread Lightly!, leads the charge on cleanup day.

Map of Silver Creek Road

Inspiration from the onX Symposium

onX has an always-on Grant Program that funds land acquisitions, restoration projects, trail improvements, and more. Earlier in 2022, we added another annex to our access and stewardship program. In an effort to gather voices from all of the user groups we serve – hunters, off-roaders, and human powered explorers – we hosted our Shared Ground Symposium in Bozeman, Montana with the philosophy that together, we can create more positive impact for our public lands. The event assembled athletes, advocates, writers, and partners, all of whom trusted the opportunity to workshop the real access and stewardship issues of today’s recreational world, even though uncomfortable or polarizing at times. This unique event proved our hypothesis that we’re all more similar than different, regardless of our recreational style or sport. It made clear the importance of collaboration in advocacy and asked attendees to craft an action plan that called on personal strengths and a work-together mindset to achieve a goal. To ensure our active contribution long after the Symposium discussions ebbed into memory, onX offered a pot of money to bring these projects to life. 

In attendance was Tread Lightly!’s Matt Caldwell, who wisely offered us all reminders of the “good” the off-road community is giving back to our open spaces. The Silver Creek Road project was his chosen project coming out of the Symposium, knowing that he’d need support from many others to make it happen. Not only did he take a break from his own post of Executive Director for a day to join the cleanup, he brought together representatives from the Bullhead 4 Wheeler club, Arizona State Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, Arizona Game & Fish Department, City of Bullhead City, and Bureau of Land Management. Matt’s ability to identify problems and rally others in stewardship is breaking down barriers and changing the game. The positive impact that Tread Lightly! is doing is undeniable – and so is the shift in perception that off-roaders are the bad apples of the greater outdoor community.

As Matt said, “onX has been such a great partner for Tread Lightly!, and not just because of the support that they have provided to projects like Silver Creek Road. onX is challenging everyone that uses public lands for recreation to see how we can “do your part” to “protect the adventure”. That’s really what Tread Lightly! is all about. All of us seek the outdoor experience, we may just choose to adventure in different ways. The commonality is the public lands we all need today, tomorrow, next year and the next generation for it to continue. We have to conserve it.”

onX offroad leaders working with Tread Lightly!
Matt Caldwell (middle) representing Tread Lightly! joined by other recreation industry leaders at the onX Shared Ground Symposium.

Celebrating Today and Tomorrow

Protecting the adventure is what we all seek. Together, we are able to positively impact our outdoor communities and the public lands we all enjoy, one project at a time. Next time you turn down dirt and throw it in 4H, give a nod to all of the people and organizations that have enabled that trail to exist as you know it. 

“Individuals who dedicate their personal time to ensure the health and protection of our public landscapes are not only critical- they are irreplaceable.”  -Carrie Wostal, Bureau of Land Management.

Want to get involved in your own Tread Lightly! project? Find upcoming activities, events, and grant opportunities at 

Becky Marcelliano

Becky is a lover of open spaces, human connection, and creating things. She’s worked as a wilderness guide, environmental educator, art teacher, and brand strategist. On any given day, you can typically find her chasing trout or wandering around the mountains of Utah. A Jane-of-all-trades in the outdoors and a community builder by nature, she’s a positive force for fostering change and seeing the good in all things.