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Poop, there it is!

Locations: News Published

It’s a sight too familiar — dog waste, bagged and otherwise, littering our favorite trails. As the snow thaws, the problem is especially evident. One might wonder, did this person intend to grab their bag on the way back? Or do they think it’s somebody’s job to ferry poop away?

Not only is it unsightly, smelly and a nuisance to step in, dog poop can spread disease and does not make good fertilizer due to acidic, high-protein pet diets. Seepage can also contaminate waterways with nitrogen and phosphorus causing algae to bloom.

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Much like the plastic faces bags left to erode, it’s not an issue that’s going away. This has prompted the Red Hill Council, a nonprofit stewardship group, to raise awareness with an “activation” on Red Hill, one of the Valley’s most popular hiking areas with more than 70,000 annual users.

Hikers, bikers and dog walkers who may otherwise ignore the proliferation of poo will not be able to so easily tune out the presence of over 600 purple flags marking each and every turd volunteers have identified within a quarter mile of the trailhead.

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The flags will remain in place for several weeks, overlapping with 5Point Adventure Film Festival, a time of high visitation, and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers work parties in May. Next year, the act will be repeated and the flags counted to measure any change in user behavior.

The idea was inspired by a similar installation performed on Smuggler Mountain Trail in Aspen in 2015. “It’s meant to be provocative and to stimulate discussion in our community,” said Chris Brandt, president of the Red Hill Council. “This is an issue that affects all trails in our Valley.”

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Regarding Red Hill specifically, “it’s a sensitive space and it’s sacred and it should be protected,” Brandt said. Within two years of moving here in 2009, he already noticed degradation occurring on Red Hill and decided to volunteer with the council. A survey they conducted last year, yielding 270 responses, identified trail damage due to use in the muddy season and dog behavior as two main issues affecting the area.

Red Hill Council will partner with Carbondale Tourism to provide responsible visitation education during 5Point’s weekend festivities. The poop-flagging strategy falls directly in line with “Take it Easy, Carbondale,” a new tourism campaign with a destination stewardship ethos.

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Officially made public on April 11, this rebranding is the result of a year of strategic planning, “thinking about how we want visitors to perceive Carbondale,” stated Sarah-Jane Johnson with Roadmap Consulting.

Using cell phone data, Carbondale Tourism tracked 162,490 unique visitors to Carbondale in the course of 12 months, with 60% coming from in-state. While recognizing the importance of tourism to Carbondale’s economy, the “Take it Easy” campaign seeks to ease impacts on the town, people and environment.

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“Our new approach to tourism recognizes the core values of our residents and local community members,” said Andrea Stewart, Carbondale Chamber and Tourism president and CEO. “Above all, be kind to our community and think about your impact on our environment and interactions.”

Resources for businesses and other partners seeking to promote this message can be found at

The Red Hill Council would also like to remind trail users to avoid using trails when they’re muddy and to leash pets so as not to widen impacts on the ecosystem. Learn more at

Tags: #Andrea Stewart #Carbondale Tourism #Chris Brandt #environment #Red Hill #Red Hill Council #Sarah-Jane Johnson #stewardship #Will Sardinsky
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