Poop problems in Aspen? Really?
We like to make fun of our Aspen problems — too much sunshine, not enough powder, tough decisions about which world-class cultural event to attend when more than one are scheduled on a single night — but dog poop? Seriously?
Last week, the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails senior ranger, John Armstrong, called The Aspen Times to tell us about a new campaign on Smuggler Mountain. “There’s no poop fairy,” he said, borrowing from a popular dog-poop enforcement campaign in Jefferson County.
A few of us took to the trail to see for ourselves what’s been happening on Smuggler. Hot-pink flags, courtesy of the trails rangers, marked nearly 200 piles of dog poop, but there were about three times that amount in unmarked piles.
That’s roughly 600 piles of poop, or about 100 pounds, as Armstrong estimated.
That’s a lot of crap.
What’s crappier, though, is each and every dog owner who left it there.
Armstrong said part of the problem is people who let the dogs wander off too far. If the dog falls behind and the owner isn’t paying attention, all it takes is a few seconds for the dog to do its business without the owner ever seeing it.
That might be the case for a small percentage of the dog owners, but we’re not buying it as an excuse for 600 piles of dog crap.
Even worse are the people who go through the trouble to pick it up only to drop the baggie on the side of the trail. News flash, Aspen: The county trails crew doesn’t spend its time combing the trail to look for dog poop or dog-poop bags. There are three trash cans on the trail that crews are responsible for, and Armstrong said they haul off thousands of pounds of poop each year out of those cans.
For a trail as heavily used as Smuggler — a trail that often attracts many of Aspen’s visitors — to be covered with dog feces, all while set against the breathtaking backdrop of our beautiful town, well that’s just shameful.
Some of the folks we talked to on the trail said it’s the “fancy women” and the second-home owners who do it. It’s easy to point a finger at the 1 percenters who use the trail, but Armstrong has another theory.
It’s the locals, he said with confidence. They’re just not paying attention, and they’re not doing their part to keep Aspen beautiful.
Dog ownership is a privilege, and we love our dogs. But don’t ruin our community’s open spaces because you’re too negligent to clean up some poop. If dog poop makes you squeamish, then you don’t deserve to own a dog. If you’re above picking up your dog’s poop, then maybe you should think about a nice 10,000-gallon saltwater fish tank or something.
So to the crappy dog owners out there: Quit stinking up our trails. Community awareness is growing, and responsible dog owners, trails rangers and hikers on Smuggler are watching you. Quit acting like your s— doesn’t stink.
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