Temporary toilets and free WAG bags keep public lands cleaner while promoting responsible recreation
Nearly 30 portable toilets appeared at more than a dozen trailheads and popular recreation areas in Chaffee County this summer, part of a Keep it Clean initiative by the Chaffee Recreation Council.
Public land agency staff recommended high-traffic areas for the privy sites where human waste has been prevalent. In addition to being unsightly and smelly, human waste can contaminate water sources and take a long time to biodegrade in desert environments.
The Chaffee County Visitors Bureau purchased advertising space on the loos to promote educational messages to visitors at the high-use areas. Nine campfire safety points include advice such as Keep fires small and manageable and Do not build a fire in windy conditions, as well as a direct Web link to local fire restrictions.
Marketing education by the visitors bureau addresses local behavioral challenges identified by Envision Chaffee County — through requests to not create a new campsite or campfire ring, and to manage dog feces because … If your dog poops and no one is watching you still have to pick it up.
The signs also include the Adventure By Nature Pledge that asks visitors to “Stay on the trail,” “Be respectful,” “Recreate responsibly” and “Leave no trace.”
Toilet locations in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) along the river:
- Tunnel View
- Elephant Rock
- Rapid #4
- Stone Cabin
U.S. Forest Service locations:
- Browns Creek/Raspberry Gulch Recreation Area
- South Cottonwood Creek
- North Cottonwood Creek
- Mushroom Gulch in the Fourmile Recreation Management Area
Salida Trails System:
- Trailheads at CR 108, CR 110 & Spiral Drive
… And a Colorado State Land Board parcel with new designated camping at
Chubb Park in the Fourmile Recreation Management Area.
The visitors bureau purchased 1,000 WAG (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) bags that Chaffee Rec Rangers with the AHRA, USFS and Bureau of Land Management are handing out to campers who do not have an alternative such as a portable toilet system or public bathroom near their campsite. Wag bags are puncture-resistant with a solidifying agent that contains smells within the bag.
The project addresses an immediate need as visitation grows while providing time to pursue permanent vault toilets, said GARNA Executive Director Dominique Naccarato, a member of the Chaffee Recreation Council. The council oversees the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan, which was developed to maintain natural resources, quality experiences and the economic benefits of tourism as outdoor recreation grows.
Keeping the outdoors clean is an important objective to protect natural resources, such as Arkansas River water quality, and to make sure we, as a community, can provide continued quality experiences for everyone.”GARNA Executive Director Dominique Naccarato