Editor’s Note: This story by Lisa Scagliotti was published in the Waterbury Roundabout on September 3.
Bolton town officials and Green Mountain Club staff are looking to the public to help resolve a vexing and unhealthy situation along a popular footpath beside Duxbury Road and the Winooski River.
In early spring, before Green Up Day, a Green Mountain Club Long Trail volunteer looking to get into trail cleaning came across a dump near the suspension footbridge that spans the Winooski River in Bolton.
Under a railing along River Road and next to a path that runs alongside the river, the volunteer spotted dozens of large black bin bags. Inside were human waste and toilet paper.
More help was enlisted and the site was cleaned up.
“Our thanks to the Green Mountain Club for mobilizing 10 volunteers who spent hours cleaning up the over 400 pounds of excrement and toilet paper. In their words: ‘Gross’, the Bolton Town Clerk recently wrote , Amy Grover, in a social media post.
Bolton Selectboard, the city’s health officer and the Conservation Commission were made aware of the situation, Grover said, and multiple conversations ensued. “No Dumping” signs have since been installed.
But the problem persisted this summer. “We were all hoping the spill had stopped. It’s not,” Grover said. “Black bin bags filled with human excrement and large quantities of toilet paper continue to be dumped in the same vicinity on Duxbury Road. Some of the bags are carried away by animals, disemboweled and their contents vomited onto people’s properties.
City officials took to social media to share the information with the public, Grover said.
The situation is worrying both for the environment and for health and safety reasons. City officials and trail stewards are frustrated after multiple cleanups, only to find more litter later.
Keegan Tierney is director of field programs for the Green Mountain Club. He said volunteers had carried out at least three cleanups so far at the site near the popular pedestrian bridge. “It’s just along the road and the trail,” he said.
The club maintains various restrooms along the Long Trail, Tierney said, so it has protective gear for handling waste. The bags are re-bagged and disposed of with household trash, he said.
Grover and Tierney stressed that neither city officials nor trail stewards were seeking to prosecute the culprit. They think it stems from a situation where someone probably needs help.
“We don’t know how to connect or how to stop whoever is dumping,” Grover said. “We suspect it could be someone with a bad or failing septic system.”
Everyone involved wants the dumping to stop and they would like anyone who does so to receive help in dealing with the circumstances that led them to collect and dump the waste.
“It’s a bad situation. But someone may not want to come to the city offices,” Grover said, adding, however, that the city would likely be willing to help resolve the issue. “I’m sure the city would find the money to rent a port-a-let, for example,” she said.
“There are resources to help with septic systems,” Tierney said. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’d like to see happen, not pursue.”
City and trail officials ask anyone with information to contact the City of Bolton offices at 802-434-5075. Plus, calling 211 connects you to a statewide helpline with information about a variety of social service resources, including programs that can help with septic problems.
“Please, if you see something or know something, say something,” Grover said.
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