Steamboat volunteers have fun fighting litter in downtown |

Steamboat volunteers have fun fighting litter in downtown

Mallory Thomas, Kira Savalox, and Emma Bessey are Clean-Up Angels on Routt County Community Clean-Up Day.
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bessey

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Along with spring in the Yampa Valley, comes a not-so-dirty little secret: bits of trash peeking out from the melted snow, much of it finding its way to ditches, roads and sparkling rivers.

Never fret though, the popular Routt County Clean-up Day is just around the corner on May 19. At this annual event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., scores of volunteers descend on the county, hunting down pieces of litter and relegating them to the trash heap of history.

In the meantime, Main Street Steamboat Springs Executive Director Lisa Popovich can often be seen a few times per week nonchalantly picking up trash, no matter the time of year.

“It’s just a matter of bending over and picking up a piece of trash,” said Popovich, who heads up the organization that promotes and enhances downtown Steamboat. “It’s the best way to fight litter — pick it up when you see it.”

There are even times when business owners or residents call her office complaining about overflowing trash.

“I’ll go and change it,” Popovich said. “It’s not in my job description, but the truth is, we all live here and someone has to do it.”

Fortunately for Popovich, a number of local groups have stepped up to the plate by adopting streets and highways through programs with the city, county and state. In fact, she has her own army of volunteer trash pickers who join her every other Thursday during the summer.

“I believe in downtown and taking care of our main streets,” said Mary Randolph, who retired to Steamboat with her husband three years ago. “When I moved up here, I came into the (Main Street) office to say I wanted to volunteer.”

Randolph is officially an ambassador or Main Street volunteer who does way more than picking up litter, but she said the Thursday group has fun and hits the coffee shop after a morning of picking up trash.

“To see a downtown that is vibrant and beautiful … you can take one look at towns like this and know they’re healthy communities,” Randolph added.

Popovich said the city has been attuned to the litter problem downtown and has even changed trash pick-up times from Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to Monday, Thursday and Saturday to better meet the trash needs of downtown visitors and employees.

“We noticed that was more effective,” Popovich said.

While the upcoming Routt County Clean-Up Day attracts a large crowd, folks wanting to pitch in for more than just one day out of the year have several options. Starting June 7, then every other Thursday after that, those interested in helping keep downtown Steamboat clean can meet at 7 a.m. at 141 Ninth St. — at the corner of Ninth and Oak —  and roam the streets with the Main Street bunch, picking up trash.

“It’s very social. It sounds weird, but it is fun,” laughed Popovich.

For groups wanting to adopt streets, roads and highways, contact the following:

City of Steamboat Springs’ Adopt a Street program:

Routt County’s Adopt a County Road program:

Colorado Department of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway program:

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