Tabeguache Trail going to the dogs

For more than the past decade, Linda McBride has relished walking her dogs off leash in the Tabeguache Recreation Area on public land just a few miles west of Grand Junction’s downtown.

But in recent years, a pileup of dog waste at the trail’s entrances is causing some folks to turn up their noses at the stench and the unsightly mess.

“If we do not establish some forms of care for this and other trails in Mesa County, we’re going to be sorry,” McBride said. “It’s going to smell. It’ll be
repulsive. We’re going to ruin it.”

Tabeguache’s trail head area is owned by the city, but it is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

In the past year, the area off Monument Road was built up to include restrooms, a paved parking lot and a kiosk.

The BLM has long offered baggies and garbage containers for dog owners to pick up and deposit their dogs’ waste. But that doesn’t mean all dog owners scoop the poop.

As improvements to the area draw more visitors, dog waste is piling up, said Erin Curtis, spokeswoman of the Grand Junction Field Office of the BLM.

On April 18, in honor of Earth Day, approximately 25 volunteers collected a whopping 160 pounds of the smelly stuff, Curtis said.

“My understanding is they didn’t have to go far for the fodder,” she said. “It’s really important to let people know that it does become a problem.”

While it may appear harmless to look the other way when your dog heeds nature’s call, dog waste is nasty stuff, especially if it’s concentrated in a small area.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a gram of doggie doo-doo contains millions of fecal bacteria.

Dog waste entering into a waterway, such as the Colorado River, can promote the growth of algae blooms, which can kill fish.

Dog waste also can carry parvovirus, which can be transferred to other dogs. The disease can be fatal to puppies.

Since McBride got the idea to hold a scooping competition at the site, more may follow. A similar event is in the works for June 6 at the trail head in honor of National Trails Day. 

During the April 18 event, the BLM donated a trailer that volunteers loaded with waste to showcase its abundance at the site.

The vehicle was parked at the site until the smell became overwhelming, Curtis said.
REI donated refreshments and prizes to those who collected the most. The winners were
Pat Griest, Neil Jaquet and Laura Carter.

McBride hopes that through occasional group cleanups, the area can remain the pristine system of trails she’s adored for years.

“If you’re a bike rider, it’s really a drag to get off your bike and clean it up,” McBride said. “On National Trails cleanup, you can come out and say, ‘OK, today I can’t play here, but I’m not going to pout, because my dog made a mess out here and I’m going dedicate some time to show my appreciation of the place.’ ”


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