850 volunteers clean up local highways Saturday
May 7, 2011
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – In the 12 or so years that Sally Corcoran has been cleaning up Interstate 70 as part of Eagle River Watershed Council’s annual Community Pride Highway Cleanup, she always finds a trucker’s bottle of urine each year.
“It’s really gross,” Corcoran said. “And don’t bother emptying them out even though it makes your bag heavier.”
That’s the advice Corcoran gave to her team of about 10 people, all employees at the Vail Cascade Resort, as they set out with their bright orange vests to clean up the stretch of highway between the Eagle-Vail exit and Dowd Junction.
“We like to call it the dirty and dangerous section,” Corcoran joked, noting that the stretch of highway is looking particularly dirty.
The Community Pride Cleanup volunteers celebrated their 12th year of picking up trash along four highways throughout Eagle County on Saturday. Some do it just to lend a helping hand, and others do it because they feel like it’s the right thing to. Russ Craney, part of the Cascade team, said part of the reason he does it is because he’s sick of looking at litter during his commute to work.
“I don’t want to look at that,” Craney said.
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Saturday was one of the first warm and sunny days in recent memory for the cleanup, which in past years has been plagued by cold weather and rain and snow storms.
The event, presented by Vail Resorts Echo, the ski company’s charitable arm, attracted about 850 volunteers this year.
Melissa Macdonald, executive director of the Eagle River Watershed Council, said watching the volunteers work so hard to clean up the valley is rewarding.
“Part of the mission of Vail Resorts has to do with being an ecologically sensitive, pristine mountain community,” Macdonald said. “This is everyone chipping in to create that atmosphere for our citizens and our guests.”
Last year, about 800 volunteers collected 25 tons of garbage, Macdonald said.
After the Colorado Department of Transportation and Waste Management pick up the orange bags of trash tomorrow, they’ll bring them to the dump and weigh them.
“I think we’ve done more this year,” Macdonald said.
Volunteers collected trash from 9 a.m. to noon, finding everything from garbage can lids to bottles of urine to homemade signs to compact discs.
Some of the more unusual items found Saturday include a $10 bill, a 2004 credit card, a 6-foot Christmas tree and an animal skull.
Volunteers cleaned more than 121 miles of highway, as some people in a group cleaning state Highway 131 just kept on cleaning past 4 Eagle Ranch, where they were supposed to stop.
“Some of the groups are now expanding – they just kept going,” Macdonald said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.