Animal waste piles up on trails in Colorado’s Grand Valley
Eric Rechel wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when he (and a five-person crew) picked up more than 50 pounds of animal waste at Fruita’s Devil’s Canyon’s trailhead in February.
Rechel is part of Grand Valley’s volunteer-based group, Desert Ecosystem Analysis and Restoration (DEAR).
“We don’t want to do this all the time,” said Rechel, who is board president of DEAR. “It’s meant to be an education experience. When the waste is gone, you notice it’s cleaner. It is meant to encourage others to pick up after their pets.”
According Rechel, canine fecal matter is a health hazard not only to humans, but to local wildlife and plant life as well. It can transmit diseases to other animals and humans.
“There are a lot of things that are obnoxious about it, but it can be solved by being a responsible pet owner,” he explained.
Bureau of Land Management’s staff agrees that trail users with pets should pick up the feces.
“It’s an issue and concerns the BLM,” said Chris Joyner, BLM spokesperson. “We want to preserve the ideal experience [for trail users], and having to walk in dog waste isn’t part of that user experience.”
Linda Armstrong, a frequent trail user and Grand Junction resident, hopes more people will start following the rules.
“This is ruining things, especially for dog owners,” she said. “If they do not follow the rules, more trails are sure to be closed to dogs, and that would be a shame.”
Collin Ewing, a national conservation area manager for BLM, added that all litter is unappealing and should be picked up.
According to Ewing, less than a month after DEAR picked up 50 pounds of animal waste, he noticed that trail users continued to leave animal droppings on the trail.
“Don’t expect others to pick up after your dog,” he noted.
NEED A poo BAG?
Pet-friendly trailheads often offer waste bags and trash cans for disposal, though not all have them. That’s why Ewing suggests that everyone using trails with dogs come with their own supplies — like portable waste bags (available from $2-$5) or even old, plastic grocery bags.
Portable bags attach to leashes and multiple bags come on a roll.
Another option for BLM would be to charge a fee to hikers to fund a trail maintenance crew to pick up animal waste.
“It’s an option here, which we may have to do to provide extra service if people can’t pick up after themselves,” Ewing said.
Joyner also noted that hikers can be ticketed in area’s like Devil’s Canyon if they are caught not picking up dog feces.
“We never want to write a ticket though,” he added. “This topic has been on our radar and our volunteers could be doing something else.”
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