By Alisa McGowan
Have you noticed the abundant amounts of dog waste accumulating on local trails and roadsides this winter? I have and I am wondering, why? Maybe it is because it has been so chilly and taking our hands out of our cozy mittens to pick-up dog waste is unappealing, or because snowstorms have been so frequent that we know the next waste burying storm is imminent and it will seem like our dog never pooped there. However, the dog waste left in the snow will remain there, frozen, until the warmth of spring arrives. When the waste and snowpack thaw in the spring, this polluted slurry runs-off into our invaluable water sources.
The Wood River Valley is not the only place dealing with this issue. Dog waste is a leading cause of water pollution in the United States. It contains extremely high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen and when added to the water encourages rampant algae growth, which degenerates and alters the river ecosystem. Unlike horses, deer, and other domestic and wild animals, dog waste contains microbes that can be harmful to humans and dogs alike including parasites, e. coli, salmonella, giardia, and many more – one gram of dog feces contains 23 million fecal bacteria. Every time dog waste is not picked up, it adds to the pollution to our beloved local waterways.
Wood River Valley residents and visitors, the ERC challenges YOU to do your part in keeping our treasured river clean this winter. The ERC’s Pick Up for the Planet (PUP) program, in collaboration with local user groups, provides bags and trash bins at 16 popular, local trailheads. Utilize one on your next hike!
Let’s work together to keep our dogs safe and the Big Wood River clean this winter!
Interested in sponsoring an ERC PUP bin at your favorite local trailhead? Contact Hadley DeBree, ERC Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208.726.4333.