Pitkin County trails department: “There’s not a poop fairy” on Smuggler
The Aspen Times
The issue of abandoned dog poop has been a long-standing problem on Smuggler Mountain, but according to trails officials, this year has been notably bad.
“It has been disgusting this year,” Pitkin County Open Space and Trails senior ranger John Armstrong said Monday after marking a field of dog feces with hot-pink flags. “It seems like we’ve regressed back five or six years.”
Armstrong said officials have been actively working with users to lessen the problem for about eight years. This year, the most egregious offense, he said, has been users who put their dog’s poop in a plastic bag but leave the bag behind for someone else to dispose of it.
“I don’t know who they figure is going to pick it up, but there’s not a poop fairy,” Armstrong said. “We don’t have slaves that go behind people and clean up after them.”
Armstrong’s allusion to a poop fairy comes from Jefferson County’s dog-poop disposal campaign that gained national attention on an episode of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Officials have been using signage from the campaign out at Smuggler as well as at Arbaney Kittle Trail in Basalt and Lani White Trail, which Armstrong said has been “pretty disappointing” this year.
Riverside Drive resident Dusty Hamrick, who moved to Aspen in 1969, has been hiking Smuggler Mountain for decades. She said the problem has always been bad, but this year it seems to be more of an issue.
“I’ve been climbing Smuggler for 30 years, and I just see so many people with dogs,” she said, adding that she thanks users whenever she sees them carrying dog bags.
On a recent morning, she said there was “an incredible amount of poopy” on the first and second curves of Smuggler. That’s in line with comments from Armstrong, who said attention to animals on the first quarter mile of the trail is critical. Armstrong said that a lot of times, users are so wrapped up in a conversation or a workout that they don’t see their dogs wandering off to pop a squat.
“It’s everbody’s backyard,” Armstrong said. “What we’re striving for is successful multiple use, where all the user groups respect each other and coexist.”
In the past few years, he said real progress has been made, but this year has been a step back.
“We live in the land of entitlement,” Armstrong said. “I’m pretty discouraged, and the hikers on Smuggler are discouraged.”
Hamrick urged trail users to clean up after their pets.
“Would you like to have all this in your backyard?” Hamrick asked. “That’s our play field.”
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