This year’s highway cleanup removes 19 tons of trash from Eagle County roadways |

This year’s highway cleanup removes 19 tons of trash from Eagle County roadways

More cleanups taking place in the coming days

Stephanie Darrohn, left, and Molly Ansfield with the Vail Valley Vixens pick up trash for the annual Community Pride Highway Cleanup May 6 near Wolcott.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The 870 volunteers who participated in this year’s Community Pride Highway Cleanup removed 19 tons of trash from Eagle County Roads, which was a bit more than last year and a lot more than the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eagle River Watershed Council organizes the event and keeps a tally of the total amount of trash collected each year. The 2022 highway cleanup collected 17.7 tons of trash from local roadways.

In 2020, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which created a large amount of trash to be cleaned up when the event returned, and in 2021 the cleanup saw 22 tons of trash. That was the most since 2010, when 25 tons of trash were removed.

In 2012, 18 tons of trash were collected, but in the years that followed, a dramatic drop-off occurred. For the six-year period from 2013 to 2018, no more than 12 tons were removed in a single year. And it wasn’t for a lack of participation — 2016 saw about 100 more participants than 2023, yet those 2016 volunteers found only 10 tons of trash.

The 2017 cleanup netted 11 tons of trash, and that year attracted nearly 1,000 participants, as well. By 2017, organizers were stating that they believed Eagle County roads accumulated about 10 tons of trash per year.

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“The Eagle River Watershed Council puts on the event every year and says the 10 tons that’s removed on an annual basis is about what’s being accumulated every year,” the Vail Daily reported in 2017.

In 2018, 10 tons of trash were collected, as well, according to figures from the Eagle River Watershed Council.

But in 2019, the number jumped up to 16.5 tons, and hasn’t dropped back down since.

The 2023 cleanup left a few gaps which motorists might notice while traveling Interstate 70; some areas are definitely cleaner than others. Organizer Anna Nakae said the cold and rainy conditions this year could have affected turnout.

“I think the weather delayed the start of many teams and they weren’t able to clean as long as they usually do and some weren’t able to get to their whole sections,” Nakae said.

Nevertheless, with the exception of that 2021 outlier, 2023 marks the most trash cleaned up since 2011, when the same amount of trash as this year — 19 tons — was also collected. About 870 volunteers participated in 2023.

The Eagle River Watershed Council will also hold a cleanup of local creeks and rivers on Sept. 9.

Bags of trash are left alongside the highways during the annual highway cleanup to be picked up.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

More cleanups are scheduled in the coming days. The town of Red Cliff will be hosting an annual cleanup on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers are encouraged to show up at the town park where they will be given free trash bags to use. Trash containers will be available at the town office building and at the town park, as well. There will be a celebration in the afternoon at the town’s baseball field for all volunteers.

No construction waste, toxic materials, batteries, liquids, wet paint, concrete, electronics, computer components, televisions or similar items will be accepted in Red Cliff, but in Vail on Friday, a “Hard to Recycle” event will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Ford Park parking lot.

The Hard to Recycle event will collect electronic waste and household hazardous waste and will offer paper shredding services. Electronics, including computers, printers, televisions, phones, and small appliances, will be recycled with Blue Star Recyclers based in Denver, an E-Steward certified electronic waste recycler.

“Household hazardous waste, including batteries, paint and paint related products, lawn and garden products like fertilizers and weed killers, household cleaning products, batteries, and motor oil and antifreeze, will be collected by Veolia based in Henderson,” according to the town of Vail. “Paper will be shredded by Alliance Moving from Gypsum and then recycled at the Eagle County Materials Recovery Facility. Yard waste and household compost will be taken to the Vail Honeywagon Organics commercial compost facility where it will become compost. Vinyl event banners will be taken to Ecological Designs in Boulder where they will be repurposed into reusable bags of all sizes and types.”

Fire detectors, fire extinguishers, tires, biomedical waste, explosives, plastic bags or other soft plastics, large appliances, or anything with refrigerant or freon will not be accepted.

The town of Vail is also encouraging residents to clean up their neighborhoods this week and next, offering residents use of dumpsters provided by the town Until May 22 or until they are full, whichever comes first. The dumpsters are 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 Interstate 70 exit 180.

Avon will also host a town cleanup day on Wednesday evening from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Avon’s cleanup day is an annual event that has been expanded this year to include a sustainability fair. Clean-up volunteers can check in to get a bag and gloves and will be directed to clean up along the railroad tracks, Nottingham Park, and Main Street Mall. Organizers are encouraging volunteers to walk, ride a bike or use public transportation, but some parking will be available on Lake Street, West Beaver Creek Boulevard and West Benchmark Road.

Free food and beer will be provided to volunteers by Ein Prosit, while supplies last.

Avon will also offer free electronic waste drop off for all town of Avon residents and property owners who can show proof of Avon address at drop off with a valid driver’s license or vehicle registration. The town will accept electronic waste (computers, printers, small appliances), but will not accept large appliances or anything with refrigerant.

Avon’s sustainability fair will feature local industry experts providing education, demonstrations and showcasing best practices in waste diversion through composting and recycling, waterwise landscaping, water, and energy conservation and more. Town staff will also be onsite to provide information on Avon’s recycling, compost and waste programs, the landscaping and noxious weed ordinances, energy rebates, e-bike rebates, new electric vehicles and more, according to the town. The free onsite education and demonstration booths include Energy Smart Colorado and Walking Mountains, Holy Cross Energy PuRE Program, Eagle County Conservation District, Vail Honeywagon, Waste Management, Evergreen Zero Waste, Eagle River Water & Sanitation, Home Depot and Active Energies Solar.

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