Friday, July 6, 2007

Pick up after your pooch

Program seeks to encourage people to clean up dog waste

Express Staff Writer

In the Adams Gulch area last Saturday, Heather Barto stands beside one of 18 new dog waste bins that have been placed at various Wood River Valley trailheads under a joint initiative sponsored by the Ketchum-based Environmental Resource Center and the Sawtooth National Forest?s Ketchum Ranger District. Photo by Willy Cook

As part of a joint initiative spearheaded by the Ketchum-based Environmental Resource Center and the Sawtooth National Forest's Ketchum Ranger District, volunteers staffed informational booths at six key trailheads throughout the Wood River Valley on Saturday.

So what was the primary issue at hand? A problem that's literally piling up at many area trailheads: dog waste.

Some of the key recreational spots where the booths were located were the Adams Gulch trailhead, the Trail Creek trailhead and the Greenhorn Gulch trailhead.

The initiative is meant to educate hikers and other recreationists on the real health and environmental concerns caused by dog waste, said ERC Executive Director Craig Barry.

"Over time it does have a significant impact," he said.

A $10,000 grant given to the ERC by the Seattle-based Raynier Institute and Foundation helped fund 18 dog-waste bins at trailheads throughout the Wood River Valley from Hailey to Galena Summit, Barry said. The gray-colored bins are only for disposing dog waste, not general trash.

Plastic bags for trail users to carry on the trail are included as part of the bins, Barry said.

"Hopefully this will provide a more convenient way for people to dispose of their dog waste," he said.

Barry said that if the situation is not improved, the Forest Service could ban dogs from local trails, a step that has been taken elsewhere.

"I certainly don't want it to come to that," he said.

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