Eagle County roadway cleanup nets 17 tons of trash
Volunteers are seeing an uptick in amount of garbage collected in recent years
This year’s Community Pride Highway Cleanup netted 17.7 tons of trash, according to a tally released Wednesday by the Eagle River Watershed Council.
While that’s quite a bit less than the 22 tons removed from local roads in 2021, it’s still a lot more trash than the 11-ton average the cleanup settled into from 2013 to 2018.
“We speculate the weight decreased this year because there was no cleanup in 2020, due to COVID, and there was quite a build-up of trash along the roads in 2021,” said Eagle River Watershed Council Projects Coordinator Anna Nakae.
2019 was also a big trash year relative to the years leading up to it, with volunteers cleaning up 16.5 tons of trash that year.
Prior to the early 2010s, 20-ton years were commonplace for volunteers. From 2004 to 2012, the average highway cleanup yielded roughly 25 tons of trash per year. The event usually attracts about 1,000 volunteers.
On Saturday, 836 volunteers removed trash from 80 miles of roadway including sections along Interstate 70, U.S. Highway 6, U.S. Highway 24, U.S. Highway 131 and Colorado River Road. A few local parks, campgrounds and community spaces were cleaned, as well.
It was Nakae’s first year helping to organize the cleanup.
“My coworkers and I are truly humbled and grateful to be a part of a community that cares so deeply about keeping our watershed clean and cared for,” Nakae said.
The highway cleanup is a spin-off of the Eagle River Watershed Council’s annual river cleanup event, with the understanding that the highway cleanup makes the river cleanup easier as much of the highway garbage eventually finds its way into local waterways. This year’s river cleanup has been scheduled for Sept. 10.
In Vail, residents can dispose of collected trash in dumpsters provided by the town during the town’s cleanup effort from May 12-19 or until they are full, whichever comes first. The dumpsters will be located at the North Trail trailhead parking lot in West Vail at the west end of the North Frontage Road, the Ford Park parking lot and the East Vail interchange parking area at I-70 exit 180.
The town of Avon will host a cleanup week May 30 to June 4, with an official cleanup day scheduled for June 4.
The town of Gypsum has a cleanup day scheduled for May 21.