Fraser gets exploring local, county-wide waste management
It’s a universal truth that doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing.
Take recycling in eastern Grand County, for example.
For many Fraser Valley residents, the lack of a local recycling center means getting up early on Saturday morning, loading the car with boxes of smelly, slime-filled bottles, crusty cans and soggy cardboard, and trucking 15 or so miles to Country Ace Hardware in Granby to take advantage of its Saturday recycling program.
It can be quite a mission.
If you’ve got an especially fusty, fetid payload, rolling down the windows is a must.
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In mid-winter, that can make a recycling trip seem more like running a leg of the Iditarod.
Then there’s the timing issue.
Ace’s Saturday recycling service is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – a fairly big window – but with such high demand and limited space, it’s not uncommon for the dumpsters to fill up early.
Sitting in the Ace parking lot at 11:30 a.m. with a car full of smelly refuse, frowning as the recycling attendant contritely says, ‘No, there’s no more room,’ it’s hard not to ask yourself, ‘How can being green make one so blue?’
Recycling and solid waste management in general present their own set of unique challenges for rural mountain areas, including high costs and limited options, but officials with the Town of Fraser are currently trying to find countywide solutions.
Earlier this year, Fraser announced that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awarded the town a $31,815 grant to begin a countywide solid waste diversion planning initiative.
Since then, town officials have been working to start a dialogue on a countywide waste management solution.
Sustainability has been a priority for Fraser for some time now.
On Feb. 4, the town board approved a sustainability plan that outlines a number of strategies to make Fraser greener, including fostering energy use awareness and education, improving residential weatherization, and even setting goals for shrinking the town’s carbon foot print; the town hopes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 2014 levels by 2025.
Part of that sustainability plan is municipal solid waste management.
“In general, we wanted to do something with the solid waste management in Fraser,” said Assistant Town Manager Bektur Sakiev. “Then we got this grant, and we thought maybe we should start looking at some opportunities at the Grand County level.”
It’s a complicated undertaking because of the diversity of programs already in place, said Town Manager Jeff Durbin.
Grand Lake offers a pay-as-you-throw program, Kremmling contracts a municipal waste program, while Rocky Mountain National Park and Winter Park Resort also have their own waste programs.
Elsewhere in the county, residents contract with Waste Management or The Trash Company for residential pick up.
Trash and recyclables pass through the Granby Transfer Station before being shipped to Erie and Denver, respectively.
“The transfer station has made life a little more complicated in Grand County for trash removal, and we’ve never really come up with a great solution for recycling in the Fraser Valley,” said Mayor Peggy Smith. “With this grant, we’re able to work on a county-wide scale to actually solve some of our major issues.”
A fundamental question that must be answered is whether an overarching solution would even be appropriate, Durbin said.
“I think it’s possible,” Durbin said. “Will we get there? I don’t know.”
Possible solutions for Fraser include partnering with Rocky Mountain National Park, other towns or going solo.
The town is currently gathering as much data as possible to answer those kinds of questions.
Last week, Fraser held three meetings – one in Kremmling, one in Granby and one in Fraser – to solicit citizen input and share ideas on the subject of a county-wide waste management system.
The town has also created an online survey that’s available through its website, frasercolorado.com.
Future steps include developing a waste diversion task force, conducting trash and recyclables audits, and eventually developing a waste diversion strategy.
“Once that survey is completed, then we will have some direction on how we move forward, but I think it’s a good first step to survey the city to get an understanding of what their needs and concerns are,” Smith said. “I’m excited about it because I think it’s part of the whole sustainability issue that Fraser has been moving forward with, and this is just one piece of a larger puzzle.”
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-557-6010.
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