A crew of military veterans will remove graffiti from the landscape around a popular Flagstaff-area hiking trail with support from UniSource Energy Services.

This June, Natural Restorations will complete a graffiti removal project at Mount Elden with a $4,500 grant from UniSource. The nonprofit organization previously erased 1,375 square feet of graffiti in the same area with a UniSource grant in 2019.

“We left knowing that some graffiti was still there. To go back and remove what we left behind, that means a lot to our team, especially those of us with ties to Flagstaff,” said Nicole Corey, Executive Director who co-founded Natural Restorations in 2015.

The donation is part of UniSource’s commitment to environmental stewardship, one of our company’s philanthropic focus areas. We typically emphasize environmental protection efforts each April in conjunction with Earth Month.

Natural Restorations contracts with military veterans for intensive graffiti work in remote areas. In addition, the team also sponsors volunteer efforts to remove trash and educate youth and the public about preserving nature, predominantly in the Phoenix and northern Arizona areas.

Each year, the veteran-based team carries out as many as 10 graffiti removal projects, which often require intense climbing into isolated areas and overnight camping. They run hoses from a 500-gallon water trailer, sometimes uphill, to pressure wash layers of graffiti on large boulders and inside caves and crevices. The group removed 20,000 square feet of graffiti last year.

Edie Anderson, a Flagstaff UniSource Business Process Analyst who arranged for the grant, said Natural Restorations’ work is important in utilizing the skills of veterans, while preserving natural spaces.

“If those areas don’t get cleaned up, nobody gets to use them,” Anderson said. “Graffiti gathers graffiti – if one person has done it, it encourages more. It’s not art. It’s destroying the natural environment.”

Corey said UniSource’s funding is vital to complete the Mount Elden project.

“We can’t do a project like this without funding,” Corey said. “For UniSource to come forward and help means that we can set up an area where others can enjoy the outdoors and recreate.”

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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