5Point Film Festival partners with Carbondale organizations to promote trail care | PostIndependent.com

5Point Film Festival partners with Carbondale organizations to promote trail care

Calvin Bates of Carbondale takes lead as Eliot Taft follows up the Three Gulch Trail at the Red Hill Recreation Area outside of Carbondale on Thursday morning.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Carbondale Tourism, Red Hill Council and the 5Point Adventure Film Festival are partnering to promote better treatment of trails during the town’s most popular outdoor recreation weekend.

The “Take It Easy” campaign asks adventure seekers to avoid Carbondale trails if they’re muddy, to stay on designated trails and paved paths and to pick up after their dogs. The campaign was recently launched to help spread the word about preserving popular hiking destinations, such as the Red Hill trail system.

The 16th annual 5Point Adventure Film Festival, which will show 40 films including 15 world premieres and 10 Colorado premieres, attracts thousands of movie-goers to Carbondale each year. 

The pristine scenery and hiking spots throughout the town also see their fair share of use during the duration of the festival.

“Our trails are the muddiest and most vulnerable to damage during the months of March and April and this happens to coincide with our highest monthly visitation rate,” Red Hill Council President Chris Brandt said. “During the busy season, you might see upwards of 300 people a day, and when inclement weather is occurring the end result is that there’s a lot of damage done to the trail structure.”

A discarded dog poop bag on Red Hill near Carbondale, right next to one of the new flags reminding users to pick up after their dogs; oh, and to pack out the bag, too.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Another concern looms with dog owners not picking up after their pets. In a survey conducted last year by the Red Hill Council, 42% of hikers said they prefer to bring their furry friends with them. Unfortunately, the resulting piles of poop left beside the trails or in plastic baggies has become a recurring problem.

“We went out to the trail and with custom pin flags with a graphic on them that shows a dog squatting, and we placed the flags everywhere. We saw a pile of dog poop a quarter mile down the trail,” Brandt said. “We thought we might put down maybe 200 or 300 flags, and it turned out we placed 687 of them.”

Pink flags line the lower trails at Red Hill near Carbondale, reminding users to pick up after their dogs.
John Stroud/Post Independent

The unattended dog poop can be detrimental to the trail’s vegetation, as well as other dogs and hikers. Carbondale Tourism Development Consultant and 5Point Film Festival Publicist Sarah-Jane Johnson said that the festival will make its audience well aware of the troubles Carbondale trails are facing during this weekend’s event.

“As a sponsor of the festival, we have on-screen ads which will run throughout every single film program,” Johnson said. “Red Hill Council and Carbondale Tourism will also share a booth giving out trail information and promoting the ‘Take It Easy’ campaign.”

While those in attendance at the 5Point Film Festival will be receiving reminders to take care of the trails that reside in and around Carbondale, Johnson said that the message will extend to making efforts to take care of the town as a whole, as well.

“Carbondale Tourism took a shift in our approach to tourism management this year where we decided we are going to incorporate responsible messaging in all of our marketing,” Johnson said. “Our message to those visiting and even those residing is to ‘take it easy on our trails, take it easy on our town and take it easy on each other.'”

Red Hill hikers Lori Spence and Cindy Suplizio with their dogs on a cool, but briefly sunny Thursday morning.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Hoping the increase in marketing throughout the festival will lead to more awareness for those looking to hike, bike or run around town, former Red Hill Council president and current Treasurer Davis Farrar knows exactly what to look for to consider the campaign a successful one.

“If we see less dog poop and fewer dog poop bags along the trail and people being courteous about not hiking when the trail is muddy, then that’s when we will be able to call the campaign successful,” Farrar said. 

With a trash can and a dog poop bag dispenser situated at the Red Hill Trailhead, Farrar hopes hikers will do their best to pick up after their pets and dispense of any unwanted discharge on the trail.

“A lot of people pick up the poop but then they leave it on the side of the trail and figure that they’ll pick it up on their way back,” Farrar said. “That’s a nice theory but unfortunately the practice just isn’t there. 

While 5Point officially started Wednesday, the festival will run through the weekend, with festivities set to end on Sunday.

Post Independent reporter Taylor Cramer can be reached at 970-384-9108 or tcramer@postindependent.com

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