TELLURIDE – The River Trail is one of Telluride’s best-loved places; but it might be loved too much.
Constant use of this scenic trail, by all manner of visitor (human and canine alike), has led to a not-so-scenic situation. Trash, from candy bar wrappers to dog waste, accumulates every year along the borders of this popular path as predictably as the springtime dandelions. But Telluride’s iconic River Trail will soon receive a serious sprucing up, thanks to the Telluride Parks and Recreation Department’s brand new Adopt-a-Trail program.
Starting November 1, volunteers will begin twice-monthly cleanup efforts on sections of the River Trail. Eight sections have already been adopted by local non-profit organizations, school groups, and individuals; two sections are still available for adoption.
“It's such a nice trail and it gets used a lot… The more hands and eyes out there the better,” said Telluride Parks and Recreation Department’s Rick Herrington of the new program. “Hopefully it will take some of the workload off the already reduced town staff.”
The Adopt-a-Trail program evolved from a citizen-driven initiative spearheaded by the local Cub Scout troop. Last May, Telluride’s Cub Scouts participated in a community cleanup day, choosing parts of the River Trail near Town Park and the Post Office as their focus. Cub Scouts Den Mother Janet Cask says the boys, and their adult chaperones, were stunned at the amount of trash they found – so much that they nearly ran out of garbage bags in their efforts to pick it all up.
While the boys felt a sense of accomplishment in cleaning up that section of the River Trail, there was still a lingering feeling among the group that the job wasn’t done. Pack leader and Cub Scout dad Eric Cummings suggested the Scouts find a way to ensure that their efforts to clean up the River Trail wouldn’t vanish following the next onslaught of careless dog owners and litterbugs. After researching similar programs in other communities across the state, the group went to the Parks and Recreation board with a proposal for an Adopt-a-Trail program. Cummings pitched the idea to the Parks and Rec committee at its June meeting, and after finding enthusiastic support for the concept among members of the board, drew up a detailed proposal.
The Parks and Rec. committee approved the proposal at its September meeting; to date, eight of ten sections are spoken for, along the River Trail.
“Kids are very conscious these days about environmental issues,” Cummings said, noting that the local Cub Scouts are so excited to see their River Trail cleanup proposal take shape, they have adopted two sections. “They realize that rather than leaving it up to somebody else, if they see a piece of garbage, they should pick it up and throw it away themselves.”
Now, with the Adopt-a-Trail program as the impetus, the Cub Scouts are hoping to inspire the rest of their community to follow in their footsteps in taking stewardship over the cleanliness of Telluride’s beloved River Trail.
The Adopt-a-Trail program is open to individuals or families, school classes and nonprofit groups, who will be recognized with a plaque posted at each end of their section. The adopting group is responsible for biweekly cleaning of trash and pet waste, which includes providing their own supplies (like gloves and trash bags) and disposing of the filled bags (at Town Park dumpsters). Additional trail improvements like special landscaping projects, as requested by the adopting group and approved by Parks and Rec. staff, will be allowed. Each adopting group commits to a one-year period of adoption, except for this year’s, which begins Monday, Nov. 1 and wraps up Aug. 31, 2011. In future years, the adoption term will be from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.
For more information on the program, or to receive an application to adopt one of the two remaining sections of the River Trail, (Mahoney St. to the Public Works facility, and the Maple St. bridge at the entrance to Town Park to Pinon St.,) contact the Parks and Rec. office at 970/728-2173.