Another successful clean up day on the books

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Approximately 100 volunteers gathered this past Saturday afternoon for the 6th annual Hyalite Spring Clean Up Day. Although the clouds were low, spirits were high as people set out to pull knapweed, clean up fire rings and pallet fire debris, and pick up trash. With guidance from Bozeman Ranger District staff, volunteers divided into small groups and spread out throughout the canyon. Armed with gloves, heavy-duty garbage bags, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, and giant magnets, volunteers and Forest Service staff got to work.

This past winter was one for the record books so far as Hyalite snowpack goes, and winter hasn't quite loosened it's grip on the upper canyon. The reservoir is still mostly iced-over and snow remains piled high on most trails. Even still, enough snow had melted to uncover plenty of trash and detritus from the winter. Dog waste seemed particularly prevalent this spring in the reservoir day use area parking lot - reminding everybody of the importance of picking up after our furry ski (and hiking) buddies. The melting snow also uncovered another unpleasant relic from the winter months - pallet fire debris.

Pallet fire trash is by far the dominant type of trash cleaned up at each of the biannual Clean Up days. We see a couple of issues with pallet fires in Hyalite - for one, pallets are bigger than fire rings, so pallet fire debris is never contained within designated Forest Service fire rings. Also, each pallet contains 50-100 nails and nails don't burn. This means literally thousands of nails littering picnic areas, parking lots, and other areas throughout Hyalite. We do our best to pick up as many nails as possible each Clean Up day (with the aid of giant magnets!) but we can't get them all. If you're going to have a campfire in Hyalite please be responsible and consider the impact of what you're burning and where you're burning it. Nobody wants to step on a nail when they're strolling along the reservoir shoreline or get one in a tire when they pull into a trailhead parking area.

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By the end of the day the 20-yard dumpster provided by the City of Bozeman was full to the brim, as were all of the Forest Service trucks and trailers. We wrapped up the successful clean up day with a volunteer appreciation BBQ sponsored by local vendors Shusdogs and Bozeman Brewing Company.

The Hyalite road opens to vehicle traffic on May 16. Have a wonderful summer season in Hyalite and please remember to practice Leave No Trace when you're out enjoying the mountains. Friends of Hyalite will have another Clean Up Day in October and we hope to see you there!

For more information about the biannual Hyalite clean up days, please click here.

Ciera Krinke