By: Laura Brown, Bear Yuba Land Trust
Dog waste is a serious issue on local trails and Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) and South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) are teaming up to increase community awareness by launching a sign-making contest for kids this summer.
“We want to bring greater awareness to the problem, because even though many people do clean up after their four legged friends there are others who just don’t realize the impact pup poop has on the environment,” said Melony Vance, BYLT Community Program Manager.
The contest kicks off this Saturday, June 7 during the event, “Celebration of Trails.” All summer long kids under age 18 will have the chance to design a poster image that conveys the message of “picking up your dog’s poop.”
At the end of summer, a panel of judges will review the artwork and announce a winner at SYRCL’s 17th Annual Greater Yuba River Cleanup and Restoration Day on September 20. The chosen image will appear on signs posted at trailheads throughout the community.
The bottom of the sign will read: “Please clean up after your dog. Dog waste does not biodegrade like wild animal waste. It sticks around for a long time. Meanwhile, it contains harmful bacteria, pollutes ground water, impacts wildlife, and smells disgusting on the bottom of a shoe. Please help keep trails clear of poop piles by packing out your dog’s waste. Thank you.”
In 2012, 36.5 percent of all U.S. households, or 43,346,000 households, owned dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Dog waste is a major contributor to storm water pollution. Rain and melting snow that flows across trails is carried to creeks, rivers and lakes threatening the health of fish and other aquatic life. Dog feces can contain harmful bacteria and parasites such as fecal coliform bacteria, which can spread diseases like Giardia, Salmonella, and Campylobacter, causing serious illness in humans. One gram of dog feces contains, on average, 23 million fecal coliform bacteria.
Since 2012, trained volunteers in SYRCL’s River Ambassador program have worked every weekend in the summer months at four major river crossings to keep the river corridor clean of garbage and dog waste. Despite that regular presence and bags offered at the trailhead, many dog owners choose not to clean up after their pets and leave waste on the trail and near the water.
“Keeping the river from being trashed is more than a one day a year activity. Since 2012, trained volunteers have spoken face-to-face with over 7,000 local and out-of-town river visitors and picked up over 8,000 pieces of garbage and dog waste,” said Caleb Dardick, Executive Director of SYRCL.
Responsible pet owners come prepared when they head to the trail and always carry bags to pick up pet waste. Collect dog waste in a bag and deposit it in a trashcan or dump the poop in the toilet without the bag. Do NOT leave bags on the side of trails — there isn’t anyone designated to pick them up!
Interested contestants may pick up their official entry forms at BYLT’s or SYRCL’s offices, or at BYLT’s booth at the ‘Celebration of Trails’ Trail Day Headquarters from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. located at the County of Nevada Rood Center, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City near the Demonstration Garden. Entry forms may also be picked up at BYLT’s booth at the Farmer’s Market at the historic North Star House on Saturday mornings.
Besides conserving land for agriculture and wildlife corridors, Bear Yuba Land Trust has an active trekking program and has built over 30 miles of local public trails including most recently the extension of the Hirschman’s Trail and a new trail at Black Swan.
Entry forms can be downloaded at: www.bylt.org.