Pick Up for the Planet (PUP) Program
We love our dogs and we can love our environment too!
The ERC currently works with the Forest Service and BLM to manage dog waste at local trailheads and works to educate the community on the negative health and environmental impacts of unattended dog waste. In this project, students will have the opportunity to design educational materials that the ERC will use in its outreach efforts; older students (5th and above) will assist in the mapping (through the use of GPS units) of unattended dog waste at local trailheads.
Since 2005, the ERC, in collaboration with the Forest Service, BLM, BCRD, and other user groups, has been involved with a dog waste trailhead pick up program throughout the Wood River Valley. Dog waste affects the quality of water and surrounding environment, the health of humans, other dogs, and wildlife, and the beauty of our local trails. Dog waste is the third largest cause of water pollution in the United States. Dog waste contains extremely high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, and when added to the water, it encourages rampant algae growth, which degenerates and alters the river ecosystem. Unlike horses, deer, and other domestic and wild animals, dog waste contains microbes that can be harmful to humans and dogs alike including parasites, e. coli, salmonella, giardia, and many more; one gram of dog feces contains 23 million fecal bacteria. Because the rivers and streams of the Wood River basin are fed almost entirely by rain and snow runoff, the water flows down from the hillsides and brings with it sediment and uncollected waste. Therefore, every time someone neglects to pick up and dispose of their pet’s waste, they are adding to the pollution of our waterways.
The ERC’s PUP program is essential in maintaining a healthy and beautiful environment free of unhealthy amounts of dog waste. The PUP program offers free bags to hikers and walkers, a strategically placed bin to place dog waste, and weekly maintenance of the bin, to make disposing of waste easy, pleasant, and accessible to all. In this project, the ERC will do an introductory program on the negative effects of dog waste and will then task the students with creating an educational piece around this issue that will be used in our outreach efforts or for older students (5 th and above) assist in the collection of data and mapping (through the use of GPS and GIS) of unattended dog waste at trailheads. This project can be performed throughout the year, although fall and spring are preferable for mapping.