Steamboat Springs As the snow begins to creep away and our layers of clothing begin to shed, let's remember the bear and think about the affect on our little town.
We could pretty much alleviate the problem with nuisance bears this spring if some solutions can be worked out with the trash situation. But it would take action.
Every year, bears come down the drainages to the smell of fresh garbage in hopes of earning themselves an easy fix of food. Though it's novel to see a bear walking through town, realize it isn't something we want happening in our community.
In the next month, the bears will have adjusted from their winter habitat and be searching to fill their empty stomachs. Inevitably, some will remember their favorite trash routes and come on down for a look-see.
However, if we can diligently work at keeping trash indoors through the week, it will change the behavior.
That means you, too, hotel, condo, restaurant and townhome owners and managers.
Though I have no figures to back it, I believe the restaurant industry, multifamily complexes and hotels are the biggest contributors to this problem. I think it's just because no one person thinks to do something.
Let's remember the facts we know about trash here in the valley. In 1998, each person in Routt County produced a staggering 10.2 pounds of waste per day. That's way above the national average of 4.2 pounds and Moffat County's average of 4.9 pounds per person per day, according to a study done by Yampa Valley Recycles that looked at waste generation in the Yampa Valley in 1998.
Obviously, this large amount of waste isn't produced solely by the residents of Routt County. It's largely from the visitors we have in Steamboat. They are staying in the condos, eating in the restaurants and leaving. That makes the responsibility of the people dealing with their waste very large.
The idea of not making our trash available for wildlife to feed on is centered in the health and good of animals. And it goes way above that, too.
It's admitting that we do have an impact on the surroundings we live in. Often that idea is contorted into the negative effect humans instinctually have on the environment just by being here. But the negative element isn't us in general. It's our actions. And that's one thing we can control.
As much as a bear beating a harmless trail in the woods is viewed as natural behavior, our town beats the same type of trail.
So let's think about the bear and let's think about our little town's affect on things. Leaving the world without human trace is far from our grasp. But leaving it without negative impact to our own good, that's what we control.