Cleaning our community |

Cleaning our community

Carolyn Pope
Carolyn PopeToko Chapin, Teri Le Beau and Bob Nolan serve up the burgers.

I think my favorite community event is the Highway Cleanup.

Yeah, it can be a little disgusting at times, and the weather might not be agreeable. The benefits, however, are not only how the valley looks afterward, but also how you feel participating in what may be the nation’s largest highway cleanup.

We all moved here because it’s bloody beautiful. And, if we don’t take care of it, it won’t stay that way. So, when this event rolls around each year at the end of the ski season, I truly believe it’s part of our community responsibility to show up or stake a little claim of land to pick up some other day. It’s not just about that particular day, but about keeping the valley clean for the entire year.

The event is organized through the Eagle River Watershed Council (ERWC). Its mission is to be advocates for the health and conservation of the Eagle River watershed through education, research and projects and to provide a forum in which everyone can participate and gain a greater understanding of the Eagle River environment.

The one-day event is highly visible, so many might think that this type of event is the only thing the council does. It’s actually only one facet of their activities. Other projects include the Black Gore Creek traction sand cleanup, the Edwards Eagle River restoration, Eagle Mine Superfund site cleanup and invasive tamarisk tree removal. They are also a resource for anything having to do with our local water, including water law and quality.

What makes this day great is not only the number of folks who show up with trash bags in hand, but the diversity of people. From those in Beaver Creek to Gypsum and Vail, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do for a living or what language you speak. Those who come out do it for our beautiful valley and for the camaraderie. After a few hours of picking up trash, the corps heads to the Lazy J Ranch in Wolcott for a celebratory lunch.

“With the volunteers’ efforts, every interstate and state highway are cleaned,” said Arlene Quenon, who heads up the board of directors of the non-profit council. “It’s wonderful how people turn out.”

For more information on what you can do to help, visit the council’s Web site at or call 827-5406.

>> To help us publicize your event, e-mail or call (970) 748-2989.

Click on photo galleries at to see more photos from this event.

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