Steamboat Springs Denise Hodder was living by her values Saturday morning.
For the 30-year Steamboat Springs resident, that meant hunching over in a vibrant orange vest on U.S. Highway 40, chucking cigarette butt after cigarette butt into a garbage bag.
“I have to put my money where my mouth is because I hate trash,” said Hodder, who was participating in Routt County’s fourth annual Highway Clean-Up Day.
She and Michelle Isaeff braved gritty gusts of wind to tackle the stretch of highway from the Stock Bridge Transit Center west to 7-Eleven at Routt County Road 129. Hodder said she does the cleanup “every single solitary year” because she thinks it’s so important.
The pair hadn’t found any unusual trash as of midmorning.
“We were hoping to find a little money, but so far no one’s thrown that out,” Hodder joked.
Isaeff said she was participating for the second year, to help “keep our community clean and nice and healthy and wonderful.”
The cleanup day was held in conjunction with several other environmentally themed events Saturday.
The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council was promoting Every Day is Earth Day: Steamboat Celebrates the Planet. Locals were encouraged to put unwanted but reusable items on the curb as part of Give Your Stuff Away Day, drop off yard waste and building materials at Howelsen Hill, and attend the grand opening of the Community Roots Garden.
More than 40 people were on hand for the garden dedication at Seventh and Oak streets. Leadership Steamboat spearheaded the creation of the garden, and Caitlyn McKenzie and Maria Martin served as the project leaders.
McKenzie thanked a massive list of sponsors before the ribbon-cutting, including Scott Contracting, which had hauled away piles of debris from the garden site that morning.
“It’s been incredible to see the entire community come out — donations, food, everything — to make this possible,” McKenzie said.
The idea for the garden came from the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office, which has gotten numerous requests for one, said Karen Massey of the Extension Office. The county received a LiveWell Colorado Community Grant, but it lacked the staffing to build the garden.
Leadership Steamboat stepped in.
“We knew what needed to be done, we had the funding, but we had no manpower to get it done,” Massey said. “You guys did it in fine form.”
Although two garden workdays were canceled because of inclement weather, McKenzie said about 30 people showed up on three days in May, and about 20 people worked on the garden in evenings last week.
The Community Roots Garden consists of 20 4-foot-by-8-foot plots. All have been spoken for, and plots will be tended by families, students and organizations such as Partners in Routt County. Plots cost $25 a year. Those who have a plot will have a chance to keep it next year, and unwanted spaces will be offered to the public.
Participants must reapply for a space after two years, McKenzie said.
The garden includes signs with information about native plants, sculptures carved from tree trunks and open space along Butcherknife Creek. Picnic tables will be part of that area, as well.
McKenzie said she wants to see the land become more than just a place for Steamboat residents with green thumbs.
“I just hope that it can be a community garden, not just, ‘I have a plot so I come here,’” McKenzie said. She wants people to “hang out by the creek, learn from the creek, know that it’s open to everybody — not just gardeners."