Anne Mudgett recently became the first paid staff member for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. The group is sponsoring the Every Day is Earth Day celebration.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Anne Mudgett recently became the first paid staff member for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. The group is sponsoring the Every Day is Earth Day celebration.

Steamboat events stress sustainability

Every Day is Earth Day celebration to highlight local programming

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Every Day is Earth Day events

Thursday

“In Transition,” a film about rural communities adapting to the energy crisis, screens at 6:30 p.m. in Bud Werner Memorial Library’s Library Hall. Call 970-879-0240.

Saturday

■ A celebration of International Migratory Bird Day includes bird walks from 7 to 10 a.m. and family friendly learning activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take a picnic lunch. All activities to be held at Yampatika’s Environmental Learning Center at Legacy Ranch, U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 131. Park at Bald Eagle Lake. Call 970-871-9151.

■ Annual Highway Clean-Up Day begins with registration from 8 to 8:30 a.m. on the Routt County Courthouse lawn downtown. Cleanup is from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., followed by a barbecue lunch and prizes at Howelsen. Take a daypack, water, sunscreen, sturdy shoes and work gloves. Safety vest and trash bags will be provided. Register in advance by calling 970-870-5588.

■ The Community Roots Garden dedication is from 9 to 10 a.m. at 629 Oak St.

■ Yard Waste Drop-off, including composting, is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Howelsen Hill parking lot near the concession stand.

■ Home ReSource building materials drop-off is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Howelsen Hill parking lot near the concession stand.

— A sure sign of spring in Steamboat is the sight of overstuffed couches, outdated snowboards and mixed dining sets sitting on the edge of the street with a hand-lettered “Free stuff” sign propped against them.

Now, Give Your Stuff Away Day is an official holiday in Steamboat. It’s part of a bigger event Saturday — Every Day is Earth Day: Steamboat Celebrates the Planet. The events, which technically begin Thursday, involve a host of local nonprofit organizations under the umbrella of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

The Sustainability Council’s Anne Mudgett said the idea to create a group of themed events during the third week in May is a response to the fact a large segment of Steamboat’s population was traveling for spring break during the official Earth Day on April 22.

“We wanted to pull it together into one cohesive event,” Mudgett said.

The concept behind Satur­day’s Give Your Stuff Away Day is to reduce the amount of usable possessions headed for the landfill while providing others with needed goods by leaving them on curbs all over the community on one day.

“Givers” are asked to leave out only safe items that have some value. That means no trash, no weapons, no drugs, food, chemicals or even recyclables.

Used furniture, safe children’s toys, bicycles, ski clothes and sporting goods are all fair game.

The city is not going to remove any unwanted items after the day of the event, so this could be the first and last Give Your Stuff Away Day if people don’t do the right thing and pull their stuff off the street or offer it to one of the local reuse nonprofits.

Also Saturday, county residents will have opportunities to spot migratory birds, clean up the highways, celebrate the opening of the Steamboat Com­munity Roots Garden, drop off compostable materials at Howelsen Hill and recycle unwanted building materials.

The kickoff of Every Day is Earth Day takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Bud Werner Memorial Library with a free screening of the film “In Transition” followed by a discussion with Michael Brown­­lee, co-founder of Transition Colorado. The film and discussion are about rural communities adapting to a future without plentiful oil.

Sustainable leadership

This week’s activities aside, the big news at the Sustainability Council is that its volunteer board has hired Mudgett as its first part-time employee.

Mudgett brings a skill set developed by working in communications for a large land trust in Michigan and at Eco-Cycle in Boulder.

“We’re very fortunate to have Anne,” Sustainability Council Chairwoman Angela Ashby said. “Her role is going to be multi-faceted.”

Ashby expects Mudgett, who moved back to Steamboat in July 2008 after living here in the early 1990s, to excel at grant writing and communication.

Mudgett said she’s eager to build on the organization’s success from last year, highlighted by the Zero Waste Initiatives through Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and Sheraton Steam­boat Resort.

Mudgett said she’s already making plans to take the Zero Waste credo to Steamboat special event sponsors and provide them with the materials they need to recycle all of the waste products produced by their patrons.

Steamboat’s free community concerts have long adhered to zero waste, and the May 8 Spring Bike Fest was another recent example.

“The Zero Waste Initiative has the potential to grow here, and I want to make it easier for event planners,” Mudgett said.

Organic waste into soil

Every Day is Earth Day also will introduce more Steamboat residents to the practice of recycling lawn trimmings and kitchen vegetable scraps into rich soil through composting.

For the first time Saturday, people who are drawn to composting but don’t want to get their hands that dirty can take advantage of a pilot program that will allow them to deliver yard prunings and organic kitchen scraps (coffee grounds and small tree limbs included) to a roll-off Dumpster at Howelsen Hill. Thanks to Yampa Valley Recycles and Twin Enviro Ser­vices, the compostable materials will be hauled to the highly effective compost operation at the Milner Landfill, where it will be transformed into soil-enriching compost.

“It closes the loop, and compost is a really nice amendment to our soils,” Twin Enviro’s David Epstein said.

The Colorado Department of Environmental Health permits Twin Enviro’s composting operation. Epstein said the operation received a $20,000 state grant to purchase a grinder that reduces tree limbs and compostable paper and cardboard. A portion of the funds is intended to go toward a pilot program to collect compostable materials.

“A few towns have begun to use roll-off containers” to collect compost materials from the public, Epstein said. “We’re just learning how to do this.”

His company still may be in the learning curve, but already it has produced 55 piles of completed compost measuring 12 by 100 feet on its 20-acre site at the landfill. The compost is for sale for $20 per cubic yard, or $15 with a coupon from the newspaper. People can pick it up at the landfill or call 879-6985 for delivery.

Epstein plans to bring a sample to the roll-off Dumpster near the Howelsen Hill concession stand Saturday. But he hopes to return with the roll-off in the near future when he would like to begin selling compost in town.

In the meantime, people can plan to rid themselves of lawn clippings and small tree limbs in a sustainable way during Every Day is Earth Day on Saturday.

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