Trash talk: Local citizen speaks out against ‘free’ trash |

Trash talk: Local citizen speaks out against ‘free’ trash

A junk mattress and box spring were left on the side of Highway 34 recently. After several days someone spray painted “free bed bugs” on the side of the mattress, apparently as a joke.
Stan Spencer / Courtesy photo |

Note to the visitors, seasonal workers and full-time residents of Grand County: Just because you put a sign on a piece of trash that says “free” does not mean that item is not garbage.

Most citizens who have spent more than a winter season in Grand County will be familiar with the common sight of trash being left on the side of the road with cardboard signs saying “free.” It is a recurring problem for Middle Park, exacerbated by the expansiveness of the county, the abundance of public lands and the wealth of lightly trafficked forest roads that make such acts of littering hard to police.

Every summer it seems, more and more trash gets deposited on the sides of our local roads. These items are often left for days or weeks before some good samaritan decides to spend their own time and money to remove the, sometimes dangerous, eyesores.

Recently, residents of the Three Lakes region were treated to just such an experience after an unknown individual deposited a mattress and box spring on the side of Highway 34 near Cutthroat Bay. After several days of sitting beside the highway, a local prankster spray-painted the words “free bed bugs” on the mattress. Area resident Stan Spencer noticed the jetsam and spoke out.

Spencer has been working with the county’s planning and zoning department to address his concerns.

“The county’s new community development director, Tom Leatherwood, has been very receptive to me,” Spencer told Sky-Hi News. “He has some good ideas but these issues need to have community awareness, that this is a problem in the county and it is not getting better.”

Spencer explained his belief that many of those who dump their trash and place free signs on it “rationalize” their actions to themselves under the pretense that “somebody might need this,” but to Spencer, the reality is it is classic illegal dumping.

“I think people are becoming more and more emboldened in dumping their trash,” he said, adding he has seen internet postings where people suggest leaving items on the side the highway as a solution for getting rid of trash.

Over the past few years Spencer has seen a wide assortment of trash items discarded as “free” ranging from bathtubs and home appliances to more dangerous items like refrigerators.

Spencer said he hopes to get the issue on the agenda of the Grand County Commissioners in the future, to facilitate community awareness and to foster a focused discussion in hopes of developing potential solutions.

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