Nearly 975 volunteers signed up for the event this year, or about 1.8 percent of the county’s 53,600 residents. With a large turnout this year, this year’s Community Pride Highway Cleanup saw all of I-70 from Glenwood Canyon to East Vail cleaned, as well as U.S. Highways 6, 24 and 131 in Eagle County.
“We didn’t do Vail Pass, because there was too much snow,” said project coordinator Brooke Ranney. “But we did do Highway 24 all the way up to Red Cliff.”
Ranney said there were a lot of children present at this year’s cleanup despite the rainy conditions.
“Young and old, people just keep doing it every year,” she said.
Piper Sassi, 10, said she found someone’s tax forms, still in their original packaging. Her friend Savannah Desportes, 9, dressed up in a French fries costume, complete with the cardboard container resembling that which you might find on a trash cleanup day like Saturday’s.
“If you find stuff like this out there, then you should pick it up,” Desportes said of her costume.
In a Vail Valley cleanup, when there’s cash spotted, it’s usually not ones and fives. A couple volunteers reported finding $20 bills, and at least one $100 was rumored to have been found, as well.
In the adults only section, alcohol outnumbered marijuana this year, with several airplane bottles of spirits being found, along with a six-pack of Budweiser and a can of Pinhead Pilsner — all unopened. Juxtaposed next to the alcohol was a plastic medical container of marijuana cookies and a copy of AC/DC’s 12th studio album, “Ballbreaker.”
The best find on the day receives the golden toilet seat award every year. This year it went to Monika Brindzakova, of The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa team, who found three golf clubs — a long iron, a mid iron and a short iron. With no par three courses in the area, explanations on that find were hard to come by.
“I found them by the river,” she said.
While Saturday’s event was technically a highway cleanup, it’s the trash’s tendency to end up in the local waterways that makes the Eagle River Watershed Council get behind the effort every spring.
“This event really fits into our mission, because if that trash was not picked up, it would make its way into the rivers and streams,” Ranney said.
Following the a period of heavy use during the summer, the watershed council also holds a river cleanup every fall.
Monday marks the start of cleanup week in the town of Avon, where the town offers free removal of large items such as washers, dryers or furniture. On Saturday, Avon will host a town cleanup day, with volunteer registration beginning at 9 a.m. at the Avon Performance Pavilion in Nottingham Park.
The town of Vail will offer free collection, by appointment, of large items in residential neighborhoods from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, with their annual cleanup day following on Saturday, May 21. Check-in starts at 9 a.m. at Donovan Park.
Eagle River Watershed Council has a mission to advocate for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River basins through research, education and projects. Call the Watershed Council at 970-827-5406 or visit www.erwc.org.
This article ran in the Vail Daily on May 8, 2016.