Clean up after dogs on 'April Stool Day'

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The annual snowmelt represents a time of year when crocuses and dog waste emerge from old, melted snowbanks. The city of Steamboat Springs is trying to entice residents to help Parks and Recreation crews pick up dog waste from public areas.

"April Stool Day" will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, weather permitting. People who are willing to pitch in may simply show up at their favorite neighborhood park or trailhead with plastic bags in hand. City crews will be there to transfer small bags of dog waste to larger bags and dispose of them safely.

More than 20 businesses and organizations have contributed cash, gift certificates and prizes geared toward the interests of dog lovers and the needs of their pets. They include nights in a kennel, physical exams and pet grooming.

The prizes will be presented to volunteer workers who fill out entry forms and who are willing to spend an hour picking up dog waste. Snacks and drinks also will be offered at the sites.

City open space and trails coordinator Mike Neumann said the recently completed Yampa River Management Plan identifies dog waste as a problem.

"As the human population in Steamboat increases, so does the number of dogs," Neumann said. "The biologist who worked on the Yampa River Management Plan last summer identified dog feces accumulations as one of the most significant water quality threats to the river. Reducing the amount of dog waste in and near tributaries to the Yampa will improve water quality."

Participants in April Stool Day should bring small plastic bags such as grocery bags, gloves and a trowel or other pooper scoopers. The city will provide disposable gloves and large bags.

Neumann said that if it snows tonight or if conditions are wet and sloppy Saturday morning, the event will be rescheduled. In the case of a cancellation, notices will be posted in obvious cleanup areas.

For more information, call 879-4300.

The seasonal streams and open storm drainage ditches that wind through Steamboat can carry traces of dog waste directly to the Yampa River during the annual snowmelt. Dog waste can contain coliform bacteria, including the disease causing E. coli. Dogs also can carry salmonella and giardia.

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