In this project, the ERC will do an introductory program on runoff and the negative effects of dog waste. Students will then be tasked with creating an educational piece around this issue that will be used in our outreach efforts. Older students (5th and above) may assist in the collection of data and mapping (through the use of GPS and GIS) or flagging of unattended dog waste at trailheads. This project can be performed throughout the year, although fall and spring are preferable for mapping and flagging.
Currently, the ERC collaborates with the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to manage dog waste at local trailheads, and to educate the community on the negative health and environmental impacts of unattended dog waste. Dog waste is the third largest cause of water pollution in the United States as it contains extremely high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen that, when added to the water, 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 local 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 in, and weekly maintenance of the bin, to make disposing of waste easy, pleasant, and accessible to all.