Our volunteers cleaned up a creek, local streets and bike trails to improve the natural environment as safe outdoor volunteer activities resumed this spring.

The cleanups in Prescott, Cottonwood and Nogales are among our efforts to promote environmental stewardship, a focus area that UniSource Energy Services emphasizes each April to June. This was the first organized event for some of our regular volunteers since the pandemic began.

“I know all of our communities can use a helping hand after the struggles of last year,” said Kenneth Miller, a Gas Service Technician in Prescott.

Here are ways we helped out:

Granite Creek Cleanup in Prescott

For about a decade, Miller has made a tradition of bringing his children to pick up trash at the annual Granite Creek Cleanup in Prescott.

But last spring, the event was canceled at the start of the pandemic. It made this year’s cleanup on April 17 even more special.

“Last year, it put me in a really bad funk because we never really got to go out and do anything in the community. I love volunteering,” Miller said. “This year, it was awesome. It was so great to do something positive.”

UniSource sponsored the April 17 event where employees and family members helped out. Miller came with two of his children – 14-year-old Rhett and 16-year-old Jadyn – and District Manager Teresa Inman brought her 12-year-old grandson, Chaz.

For the sponsorship, we donated $2,000 to help with costs to run the event and supplies, including trash bags and maps.

Started in the 1980s and now organized by Prescott Creeks, the Granite Creek Cleanup is designed to protect, enhance and restore the waterways that flow through and around the city. Each year, an average of 460 volunteers turn out for the pickup.

“It’s one of those charity events where you can physically see the impact on the community,” Miller said. “There are a lot of parks and pathways. By going through and cleaning it up, it makes it more pleasant to take hikes. It makes a great environmental impact.”

This year, the UniSource team was assigned to an area on the north end of the creek close to the Watson Lake dam near large granite rock formations. The group packed up five large trash bags. “It was beautiful and it was very serene,” Miller said.

Miller said the event brings something special each year. One year, his children found an old rope swing hanging from one of the trees. They took turns swinging, and the sound of their laughter could be heard up and down the creek.

“It’s just fun to go out. The kids are excited to not only pick up trash, but they always find some hidden treasure,” Miller said, noting that they found ducks swimming this year.

This year, the creek was in worse shape than previous years, given the lack of attention during the pandemic.

“I hope that we can continue to be supportive of this event for as long as I live here. When my kids have kids, I hope they’ll bring their kids out. I hope it inspires everyone,” Miller said.

Monte Carlo Trails in Nogales

Nogales employees and family members picked up trash and raked up nature areas at the Monte Carlo Trails as part of Earth Week festivities in April, pictured here.

Monte Carlo’s walking and mountain biking trails, including a BMX course, are part of a youth and nature system managed in collaboration with the City of Nogales, the National Parks Service and the 0S3 Movement nonprofit group. The Earth Week celebration included a ceremony and involvement form youth members, who are part of 0S3’s bike and education programs.

On April 25, UniSource volunteers included Norma Lucero and Jesus Rodriguez, who brought his wife, three children and a niece.

“This event honored Mother Earth and taught us about giving back and helping heal the Earth,” Norma said.

Adopt-a-Street in Cottonwood

UniSource’s Verde District held its first 2021 volunteer project on April 14 with the Adopt-a-Street trash pickup in Cottonwood.

The 14 UniSource volunteers were joined by a crew from the Yavapai County Detention Center for the clean-up. UniSource has been a partner for more than two decades with the City of Cottonwood in the program.

“It was a very windy afternoon, but the 2-mile stretch of road on Willard Street was cleaned up,” said Monette Fanning of the district’s Community Action Team. “This program makes a difference in our community, and we back it 100 percent.”

This story is part of our ongoing series highlighting TEP’s philanthropic focus areas. TEP works with nonprofit partners to develop invitation-based donation requests for community assistance efforts. Funds come from corporate resources, not customers’ rates. Learn more about our donations.

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