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CB funding backcountry trash collection in area

Keeping the receptacle at the Visitor’s center

By Mark Reaman

The town of Crested Butte is getting into the backcountry trash business. The council agreed at the July 16 meeting to help cover costs for Dumpsters to be placed in two local drainages where camping is popular: the Gothic drainage near the Judd Falls trailhead and up Washington Gulch.

The Gunnison US Forest Service office will provide the Dumpsters and the town will pay Waste Management to empty them once a week. That will be in addition to paying for the Dumpster near the Visitors Center at the town’s Four-way Stop that is meant for campers to drop off trash.

One concern is that too much trash left outside the backcountry Dumpsters can attract bears. The council is hoping that financial assistance could perhaps come from other government entities such as Mt. Crested Butte and Gunnison County.

Councilman Paul Merck reported to the council he had received some chuckles from fellow members of the county’s STOR (Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation) committee when he broached the funding topic. He did say the Forest Service would try to find funds to pay for the service in the future but this year had no budget for such trash collection. “If we help provide the backcountry Dumpster service, perhaps we wean ourselves off the Dumpster at the Four-way after a month or so,” he suggested.

“I received a similar response at the mayors and managers meeting last week,” said mayor Jim Schmidt. “I was disappointed when I brought it up and county commissioner Jonathan Houck said it was not a priority for STOR.”

The estimated cost to empty trash once a week from the two backcountry locations through September is $2,961. That is in addition to the $232 per month charge for the Dumpster at the Four-way Stop.

Councilman Chris Haver was inclined to have a more comprehensive backcountry trash collection plan developed before having the town commit funds to cover two drainages. “I would rather see other entities like Mt. Crested Butte and the county participate in this as well and plan for all the mountain drainages like Kebler, Slate and Brush Creek,” he said. “We need a very direct request with hard numbers of what a more complete plan would cost to do such a project right. So I personally would rather hold off until we talk to everyone and plan out the other drainages.”

“I’m willing for the town to continue to take the lead on this,” countered councilman Kent Cowherd. “You lead from the front. I also think it is critical to keep the Dumpster in town as part of any plan. That seems to be working.”

Councilman Jackson Petito suggested the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association could be approached for some funding with the project.

“I agree with Kent and we need to lead on this as well as look at the other drainages,” said Schmidt.

The council agreed to begin the process and work in conjunction with the local Forest Service office to get Dumpsters into the Gothic and Washington Gulch drainages quickly while keeping the current Dumpster at the Four-way Stop.

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