Highway cleanup brings noticeable change to roads
EAGLE COUNTY — Steve Burns did a double take Saturday on his drive into Edwards.
“I live in Gypsum, and on my way up I was noticing how good the freeways look with all the fresh green on the side,” Burns told a crowd of hundreds at a thank-you barbecue for the volunteers at the Eagle River Watershed Council’s 15th annual Community Pride Highway Cleanup.
Every spring, a 1,000 or so volunteers get together and remove roughly 12 tons of garbage from the sides of local roadways. Down from 50 tons when the event first started, it went to 30 tons, then 18 tons and seems to have now leveled out at 12 tons throughout the course of the decade and a half it has been underway, said Holly Loff with the Watershed Council.
“So we’re thinking since it has plateaued at 12 tons, that is about what’s discarded every year,” Loff said.
Of course, for every item discarded this season that won’t be found for years to come, several items from generations past were uncovered on Saturday. A Cactus Jack wrestling figurine, a Doris Day album that was literally an album in the classic vinyl LP format, and a Broncos Super Bowl pennant that was not from their 2014 Super Bowl appearance rounded out the items from bygone eras.
On the other side of that spectrum were the technology items, with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and a second or third-generation iPad among the most notable there.
Representative of our area were car parts and sporting goods. Signature pieces from Porsche and BMW automobiles were found, of course there were lots of ski equipment discoveries and John McCaulley, of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, was awarded the Golden Toilet Seat for most unique item found with his discovery of a pair of wooden boat oars. Eleven-year-old James Crea said he found approximately 30 golf balls.
FOR THE KIDS, (OR NOT)
Crea and his mother, Flora Bell of Singletree, were among the 51 volunteers who helped that team clean up their area.
“We had lots of families come out, which is great to see,” said Suzette Newman, who usually helps pick up trash but was sidelined with a broken wrist this year and helped organize their team instead.
Lisa and Chip Bennett rallied the support of their children, 2-year-old Kit, 4-year-old Nicole and 5-year-old Alex.
“They just love this event,” Lisa Bennett said. “They’re the reason we keep doing it.”
Among the found items the children weren’t allowed to go near were the “dugout and vape pen” marijuana smoking kit, a nearly full bottle of Jack Daniels and a battery-operated sex toy. Chip Howard found a discarded pair of thong underwear near the Edwards rest stop.
“We thought it was dental floss at first,” said Linda Hill, Howard’s teammate on the Edwards Rotary cleanup squad.
And if you got a laugh out of that, you’re catching the vibe of the event.
“When I was checking people into that thank-you BBQ after they finished cleaning up, it reminded me of skiers getting off Vail Mountain at the end of the day,” said Joe Macy, a Board Member with the Eagle River Watershed Council. “Everyone was smiling,”