In the desert, litter doesn't hide. There are no roadside grasses or hedges to conceal the bottles, cans and other litter Tucsonans toss along streets and in parks and washes.

Fortunately, thousands of our fellow citizens labor to clean it up.

Volunteers have logged more than 200,000 hours since 1984 as part of Tucson Clean & Beautiful's Adopt-A-Park and Public Areas program.

Organized groups - schools, churches, civic groups and others - commit to picking up litter once or twice a month in a specific area, B.J. Cordova, director of programs for Tucson Clean & Beautiful, told us.

On Saturday, the organization honored its 236th group - the CACTUS Club, which stands for Community Actively Cleaning Trash Up on Silverbell. Tax Pals Inc., a tax preparation and accounting business, is the club's sponsor.

The CACTUS Club has also been removing invasive, non-native buffelgrass along Silverbell Road.

While they're out, litter patrols also take note of maintenance problems such as damaged street signs or potholes and pass that information along to Tucson Clean & Beautiful, Cordova said.

He said volunteers are filling a critical need during this time of government cutbacks and tight funding.

The good news is that more volunteers are stepping forward - 30 new groups in the past year, compared with the long-term average of 10 annually.

Our thanks to Tucson Clean & Beautiful for keeping the momentum going for 26 years, and most especially to the volunteers who demonstrate their pride in our community.

Arizona Daily Star