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The Black Hills aren't always treated as kindly as South Dakotans might like, but there's a chance to help clean up a part of it for Earth Day this year.

The Black Hills Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund will host a cleaning project at the Rock Maze, which will see volunteers picking up trash in the area.

"It's an area that gets a lot of traffic, including a lot of non-climber traffic," said Andy Koosman, president of the BHCC. "Trash tends to build up pretty rapidly, and there's graffiti and paintballs in various spots, so we're gonna work on removing some of that."

Koosman said that the graffiti will be removed with a product recommended by the Access Fund, a national organization that partners with local organizations to help with projects like this.

"They recommended a product called 'Elephant Snot,' believe it or not," Koosman said. "I've read reviews online, and it's pretty good to remove stuff like graffiti."

Koosman said that it was important to keep the area clean to keep it from being closed off to public access.

"You'll have less of a problem if it's properly upheld," Koosman said. "We want to keep good relations with the land managers, National Park Service employees, park managers and other people that help preserve outdoor areas. If they see our effort to keep these places nice, they'll be willing to work with us on other issues."

Koosman added that he felt it was a duty for anyone who enjoyed the area to help preserve it.

"It's important to keep it clean and beautiful," Koosman said. "It's the general public's job to keep it clean, to pick up after themselves. Let's not abuse this land."

Those who wish to sign up ahead of time should visit toe Access Fund website and become a joint member of the Access Fund and the BHCC. There will also be signup forms at the event.

Contact Max B. O'Connell at 394-8427 or

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