The Stowe Land Trust has been getting complaints about the pet waste that accumulates on some of their trails that are popular with dog walkers for years – particularly at Wiessner and Kirchner Woods. Although some visitors pick up and pack out their dogs’ waste, a lot is left to accumulate on and next to trails, which is particularly noticeable in winter and late spring. The problem goes beyond a nuisance for visitors; the waste also washes into streams adding pathogens and pollutants to waterways and is a source of disease for pets and people.
“On average, we estimate about 20 dogs visit Wiessner Woods each day – during busy seasons it’s more,” says land trust Conservation Program Manager, Kristen Sharpless. “If they each poop and most of the waste is left behind, that accumulates to at least one ton of dog poop (think the weight of a pick-up truck) per year added to our land, streams, and trails. That adds up to a lot of extra animal waste in a small area.”
After posting educational signs at their trailheads and not seeing much change, the land trust is trying a new approach to improving the situation this winter. With the help of a few dog-loving volunteers, pet waste bags are now available at both trailheads and volunteer “Poo Crews” will be tracking and promoting picking up and packing out waste through next spring. Volunteer Sheila Goss who hikes at Kirchner Woods with her dog Gryphon a few times a week says that helping out on the Poo Crew is the least she can do. “I hope that people understand that this effort is to benefit all of us, human and canine” says Goss.
“Dog waste is a tough problem that many land managers struggle with, and it’s not an easy one to remedy.” Said land trust Executive Director, Caitrin Maloney. “I hope the Poo Crew and our additional outreach efforts motivate people to pitch in and pick up.”
The land trust is still looking for a couple more volunteers to help out with the Poo Crew project. For more information contact Stowe Land Trust by calling (802) 253-7221 or sending an email to info@. stowelandtrust.org