Aspen’s spring cleaning: Poop patrol in the parks |

Aspen’s spring cleaning: Poop patrol in the parks

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Receding snows have once again revealed the dirty underside to Aspen’s love affair with dogs. But the scoop on this year’s poop isn’t all bad.

A crew armed with shovels has been making the rounds of the town’s many parks this week. In large, prominent parks like Rio Grande and Wagner, dog owners did a laudable job of picking up after their pooches throughout the winter, according to Brian Long, city parks and open space ranger.

“Some areas that see heavy use were picked up well. You can’t drive past Rio Grande Park without seeming somebody chucking a ball for a dog.”

On the other hand, Conner Park – the tiny space behind Aspen City Hall – was a mess. The pocket of grass contained enough poop to fill up at least one five-gallon bucket, according to Dan Nelson, parks field supervisor.

On Wednesday morning, the crew was at Tot Lot, a park off Cemetery Lane, bordering the city golf course. It was, along with Conner Park, among the most offensive. Tot Lot is adjacent to Bernese Boulevard, the dog-friendly nordic trail that rings the golf course, and is among the local parks where “watchful” off-leash play is permitted.

That may not be the case in the future.

“Where people pick up, dog owner access is secure,” Long said. “When they drop the ball and let it go downhill, we have to look at our policy.”

Dog owners were, on the other hand, pretty diligent on the nordic loop itself. Long estimates he hauled off a thousand pounds of waste from the trail, bagged by users, over the course of the winter.

The spring cleanup, however, is just the beginning of a time-consuming ritual during the summer months, according to Nelson. Parks employees regularly patrol the parks, and they must do a sweep for poop each time a park is mowed.

“It’s a sticky wicket,” Long said. “You don’t want people to bask in the confidence that the crew is going to come by and pick up the park every spring, but we do. The melt-out and picking up the dog poop that’s accumulated is a springtime ritual.”

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