Boulevard. On Saturday, they fell in love with Hungry Valley as they once again did their part to lend a hand to the land.
"Getting to see the beauty of the area (is the best part)," Jeannie said
The Millers were two of many volunteers regionwide helping out at the third annual Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful clean-up event Saturday. About 25 volunteers, including a few Boy Scouts, spent their morning removing trash, then attended an appreciation lunch as a "thank you" for their time.
While Thomas and Jeannie have only been in Nevada for 13 months, other long-term residents still get just as excited about keeping their public lands clean.
Russell Brigham, working alongside Sandler, said the annual KTMB event stirs up awareness of environmental issues.
"I've been doing this for three years, and I'll continue doing it," said Brigham, an environmental coordinator with the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. "I think once a year is what we can do (at this time); it's hard with peoples’ time schedules. The volunteers are really enthusiastic and friendly and willing to help out."
Toni Sandler, another volunteer, said since she works at the State Bar of Nevada, taking a little time out to enjoy the warm weather and cool breeze was refreshing.
"It's a chance to be out and really, really do some good," Sandler said. "People come here because the land's so beautiful, but they don't have the time to take care of it."
Sandler and Brigham saw off another helper who drove a truck beyond the hills about a quarter of a mile away to pick up a dumped refrigerator they spotted on their walk-through.
"It amazes me that people have that much gumption," said Bill Elder, a parent of a Cub Scout member, who also was out helping at the clean-up. "Most people would just drive up here and dump it, but they went that far.
"It makes my brain hurt," he laughed.
Sandler predicted the recession would have an impact on the amount of waste that's left behind in areas such as Hungry Valley.
"This whole foreclosure thing is going to mean a lot more of this stuff is on the way," she said.
With trash bags in hand and a helicopter to lift abandoned vehicles out of the hills, volunteers scouted several different areas for refuse. Empty shell casings, beer cans and bottles, evidence of recreational hunting activities, present the biggest challenge since Hungry Valley is a haven that attracts gun enthusiasts to the site.
Most of the litter in Hungry Valley, however, is loose garbage that flies away from residents' trash cans, said Allen Tobey an air quality specialist.
"We just want to keep our land and our communities clean," Tobey said. "When folks take time on their Saturday to come out for it, it really says something about people. … These folks have a pretty big heart to volunteer for a job that needs to be done."
Tobey, who works for Brigham at the Indian Colony, monitors the ambient air at a station in Hungry Valley and evaluates spilled oil, dead animals or any strange odors that affect air quality. But he said he enjoys taking the time to help clean up some of the physical pollution on the ground through KTMB events. It also means getting out and helping with weeds from time to time.
"The Whitetop weed is the most invasive species of weed plotted out here and we have Public Works come out and dump it," Tobey said.
The experience was good for adults but it also provided an educational experience for kids, Elder said. The father of a 10-year-old from Jerry Whitehead Elementary School, he said enjoyed being a part of KTMB while his son learned about helping the environment.
"It promotes ethical community service," he said.
Thomas Miller also said he had a chance to work with the Scouts.
"They're full of energy and they bring a lot to the event," Miller said. "The parents are effective in channeling their (kids') efforts to make it a really nice community."
"This is the most focused and most organized effort that we've seen," said Miller said, the director of human resources for Scolari's Food and Drug Company. His wife said he woke up with "sparkling eyes" and excited to help with the clean-up.
Jeannie, a kindergarten teacher at Summit Ridge Christian School in Sparks, said she could see how much the community cares for its land by the volunteers who showed up to help.
"People don't see the beauty (of their) if they're there all the time," she said. "God give us this beauty. We can't get over it."
Various local agencies cooperated to host the annual event, including Washoe County, cities of Reno and Sparks, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, the Bureau of Land Management and Waste Management.