Snow Delays Highway Cleanup

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado — The highway cleanup planned for Saturday in Colorado's Vail Valley has been postponed a week.

After a foot of snow buried the Vail Valley organizers on Thursday decided to reschedule the cleanup for Saturday, May 8.

“We want people to be able to see the trash,” said Melissa Macdonald, executive director of the Eagle River Watershed Council.

The party for participants in the cleanup is still on for this coming Saturday at 4Eagle Ranch.

About 800 people are scheduled to participate in the trash hunt. The cleanup will target Interstate 70 from East Vail to Dotsero, along with stretches of Highways 6, 24 and 131.

“Our valley depends on tourism,” Macdonald said. “You want to come and see a pristine mountain town and beautiful valley. We don't want people to come here and see trash.”

Tires, wrappers, even bottles of pee. Those are some of the things people have found on the highway.

“I've already got a call this year about yet another refrigerator,” Macdonald said.

Now in its 11th year, the Community Pride Highway Cleanup takes some serious litter off the streets. Last year, participants collected 48,000 pounds of trash.

This year team leaders had to watch a safety video about what to do if they find discarded remains of meth labs. If teams find what look like big tanks with greenish crusts, they're supposed to call police.

“We're hoping they don't find any of those,” Macdonald said. “They're health hazards and crime scenes, basically.”

As for any benign litter, volunteers from Vail Honeywagon, Waste Management and the Colorado Department of Transportation haul it away the next day.

Litter collects on the highway for several reasons, Macdonald said. For example, people who pull over during highway closures may throw litter out the window while they're waiting for the road to reopen, she said.

“I think people are a lot more conscious nowadays about not throwing things out but I think some people are not of that culture, necessarily, and they do throw things out. Other things accidentally get away.”

This year 80 teams will scour the highways for trash.

One team includes 15 people with the Rocky Mountain Sherpa Association, a nonprofit that preserves the traditions from Nepal and the Himalayas. That team will tidy up a 1-mile stretch of Interstate 70 near Wolcott.

“We want to be involved in the community,” Edwards resident Pemba Sherpa said.

*Courtesy of the Vail Daily

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