6 Images

Cleaning up the Desert

TRASH: Paul Miles shows off garbage he found in the desert. Crew members find abandoned cars, shell casings and many other types of trash that one would expect to see in a dump. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / LAT)
CHIEF: Group coordinator Mizuki Seita mugs through a tent window. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / LAT)
BREAK TIME: Dan Prell, 21, and Mary Verrilli, 25, play a game of Hacky Sack to stay warm one afternoon. Verilli has built trails in Tennessee, but now is attacking illegal ones in the Mojave. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / LAT)
FUEL IN THE FIGHT: With dreadlocks blowing in a cold wind, Paul Miles collects dead branches that will be used to hide illegal trail heads from off-roaders. He says the desert is amazing, and so is its abuse by careless, destructive visitors. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / LAT)
ENTHUSIASM: Dan Prell of Wisconsin helps clean the desert near Barstow. He says the experience lets him get “out of a small city and go camping for eight months. What could be better?” (Karen Tapia-Andersen / LAT)
CAMOUFLAGE: Paul Miles, 24, rigs a fake bush to hide an illegal trail. He is part of the Student Conservation Assn., a nonprofit organization that sent him and six others to a section of the east Mojave Desert for an eight-month hitch. They get $160 a week. (Karen Tapia-Andersen, Los Angeles Times)