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Springs cleaned: Tule gets de-gunked

Tule Springs Fossil Bed Monument cleanup
Vince Santucci, superintendent of the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, swears in the monument’s first Junior Paleontologists, Samson and Gemma Welcher, during a volunteer cleanup April 11.

What good is a brand-new national park if it’s buried under a few decades’ worth of cement, carpet, glass and other junk? To scientists, politicians and conservationists, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, on the northern edge of Clark County, is a research and tourism gold mine. To casual onlookers, it was a dump. So, for its first official event, newly minted Park Superintendent Vince Santucci hosted an April 11 cleanup to prepare the site for its expected illustrious future. Here’s the debris, deconstructed:

60: volunteers who participated

200: hours they put in

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30: length, in yards, of the dumpster they filled

9: pickup truck loads of debris removed

7: age of the youngest volunteer, Gemma Welcher

1: number of critically endangered Las Vegas bearpoppies in bloom that Welcher and her brother found

Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.