Double the garbage picked up on I-70 |

Double the garbage picked up on I-70

Matt Zalaznick
Special to the Daily The team of volunteers from the Sonnenalp resort cleaned a stretch of highway in Wolcott. The team's organizer said they used a lot more garbage bags than they usually do.

EAGLE COUNTY – Seems like there are more slobs around this year. Volunteers the last few weekends picked up twice as much garbage as they did last year along I-70 and Highway 6. Organizers of the annual countywide cleanup say more than 89,000 pounds were collected, compared to 45,000 in 2004 and not all of the junk has been weighed yet. “The highway was flat trashed,” said Mike Jacques, who a led a team of 16 volunteers along the mile east of the Avon interchange. “This is the third year I’ve organized a group and this was by far the worse,” said Jacques, a supervisor at The Home Depot. “We picked up 110 bags of garbage between 16 of us in 4-1/2 hours. “It was amazing how it didn’t stop.”

Every spring, teams of volunteers arm themselves with old gardening gloves and several garbage bags to scour the highway from Vail Pass to Glenwood Canyon. At the end of the cleanup, the bulging orange bags line the road. “There was definitely more trash this year,” added Kim Blackford, who for the last five years has led a team of volunteers from the Sonnenalp resort in Vail. Her group of 18 cleaned a stretch of freeway in Wolcott. Blackford said she doubts many people are deliberately littering. She blames the trash on oversight. “I feel like there’s always going to be litter,” she said. ” I don’t think people are throwing trash out their windows, I think it’s lack of foresight to strap stuff down in the back of trucks or have a trash bin with a lid, so trash doesn’t fly out.”

Caroline Bradford, executive director of an environmental group called the Eagle River Watershed Council, is one of the organizers of the cleanup. She said the highway through Eagle and Gypsum was a lot dirtier than usual. “It’s pretty disgusting,” she said. “It’s pretty much an eye opener.”Approximately 900 volunteers cleaned up this year, but that wasn’t a larger than normal force; nor did they clean more miles, Bradford said. In fact, gloomy weather scared some volunteers away. “If anything, our total is a really conservative view of how much trash there is out there,” she said.

What did the groups find?”Lots of car parts,” Blackford said. The winding stretch through Wolcott – where her group spent the cleanup – is notorious for bad car accidents. “Everything from a full bottle of Grand Marnier to plastic bags to lumber,” Jacques said. His group filled 110 bags this year, compared to about 40 during past cleanups.

“It’s quite rewarding to be out there,” he said. “It’s a major interstate and with all the new construction around, I’m not surprised.” Vail, Colorado

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