On the roads again: Hundreds of volunteers clean up area highways
EDWARDS — Thinking back to the early days of the valleywide cleanup efforts, Joe Macy recalled a year where they hauled away 45 tons of trash.
That won’t be the case this year, as the proud tradition of spring cleaning in the valley has put a big dent in the garbage of yesteryear, so volunteers are now cleaning up trash from the last 12 months, mainly.
At least that’s the idea. But Macy said we’re still not there yet, as evidenced by the hundreds of tires that were recently removed from the Eagle River.
“Some of them had whitewalls,” Macy said.
People, and businesses especially, weren’t as concerned about the natural environment in those days, Macy said. Throwing a tire in the river was not only easier, but it was also more cost-effective for a service shop along the river that needed to dispose of a discarded tire.
“That’s the way it used to be done,” Macy said. “It wasn’t carelessness, it was intentional.”
VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED
Flash forward to modern times — where highway cleanups like Saturday’s Eagle River Watershed Council event draw close to 1,000 volunteers — and the business community is to thank for so many people dedicating time to the effort.
“A lot of people could have been somewhere else today,” Macy said. “We have a lot of business sponsors who we couldn’t do it without.”
Volunteering for the Christie Lodge team, Avon resident David Champaign won the Golden Toilet Seat award most interesting item found. Champaign found the skull of an unidentified animal on the north side of Interstate 70 in Avon, and suspected it was from a weasel. Pete Wadden with the town of Vail said it looked more like badger.
Champaign said the skull was not the most interesting item his family found that day, but it was the only interesting item that was family friendly.
Attracting families to the cleanup has long been the goal of the organizers, despite the adults-only items might be discarded alongside an interstate.
AJ San Diego, 11, who cleaned up the area near Eagle Valley High School, said he was puzzled by how many canisters of whipped cream he found.
“I guess the kids at the school really like whipped cream,” he said.
AJ was joined by his sister, 13-year-old Christi, and his father, Bonn San Diego, on the Community Banks of Colorado team.
“It was really satisfying walking back and seeing the whole area clean,” Christi said.
In addition to whipped cream, the found a lot of baseballs, lacrosse balls and empty vape cartridges.
“I promised my friend I’d never try that stuff,” AJ said.
TO BE CONTINUED
While the highway cleanup is usually part one of a two-part effort, (part two comes in the fall with a valleywide river cleanup), this year the cleanup effort will continue on May 11 with the Lake Creek area, an area Macy once described as being “paved with tires” due to the sudden slowing of the river current there.
“The hundreds of tires that were removed from the Eagle River by the Lake Creek community are currently stashed at the water and sanitation plant in Edwards,” Kate Isaacson, who assisted in the effort, said on Saturday. “We’re going to continue cleaning up that area in two weeks, then Bridgestone is going to come out and pick them up with a hauler.”
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.