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Going ‘green’ with laws for old beds, dead critters

A couple weeks ago on a Sunday, there was a lengthy legal notice in the classified ads section of the newspaper regarding garbage, recycling containers and a bunch of other stuff including wildlife. It seemed to go into excruciating detail and took up the better part of two pages of newsprint. It’s been bugging me. What was that ad all about? – Reads the Fine Print

Your query comes at a perfect time. Today is the first day of Durango’s new single-stream recycling system – and that lengthy notice is all about this exciting new service.

On Jan. 13, the city dutifully posted the complete text of the new Chapter 10 of the City Code, which covers trash collection and recycling.

The old Chapter 10 had its problems. Most notably, it lacked the appropriate language for single-stream recycling.

Rather than tinker with the code and craft a slew of amendments, the city junked the entire chapter and replaced it with a new one.

So when it comes to rules on salvaging resources, the city tosses its law without reducing words, reusing text or recycling content. How ironic is that?

The new Chapter 10 contains some interesting details.

For instance, Dumpster-diving entrepreneurs are put on notice. It’s now against the law for “anyone to remove from any container designated for recycling any material of any value.”

Thankfully, this section prohibits trash mining only from containers, and nothing is said about fall cleanup.

Around these parts, fall cleanup should be called Hoarders’ Holiday, as several people cruise around, seeing if anything “good” can be snagged from huge piles of debris and detritus.

Junk and appliances have their own section in the code. In a nutshell, “dilapidated furniture, appliances, machinery, equipment, building material, vehicle or portions thereof” can’t be accumulated outside unless enclosed by a “building” of some sort.

We’ll call this section the “No Disgusting Crummy Couches with Free Signs on Curbs” provision.

The scourge of cement litterbugs is dealt with directly.

The law specifically insists “persons mixing concrete or transporting concrete on city streets shall not drop or leave waste concrete upon such streets.”

The city is fully prepared for the next pandemic, as the ordinance covers “the removal and disposal of wearing apparel, bedding or other trash from homes or other places where highly infectious or contagious diseases have prevailed.”

Local victims of cholera and tuberculosis will need to make arrangements. “Such trash shall not be placed in containers for regular city trash collection,” the law reads.

Section 10-24 is titled “Dead animals.” It reads, “No person shall deposit or otherwise place any carcass or portion of any animal, bird or reptile for collection by the city.”

The ordinance continues with a crucial kitchen clarification: “This prohibition shall not preclude the disposal of animal parts that are part of a meal or meal preparation.”

And speaking of animals, our new trash code specifically outlaws leaving or storing “any refuse, food product, pet food, grain, seeds or salt in a manner which would constitute a lure, attractant or enticement to wildlife, except for birdfeeders.”

OK. But the ordinance defines “wildlife” as “including but not limited to elk, deer, sheep, lynx, bears, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, magpies, crows, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, mountain lions, unrestrained livestock or unrestrained household pets.”

So you can feed birds but not magpies and crows?

Action Line checked with our friend, City Manager Ron LeBlanc, regarding this ornery ornithological ordinance and the flap it could cause.

“We took testimony from the ‘nice’ birds like sparrows and robins – and they had nothing nice to say about members of the corvid family,” Ron chirped.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you know the multiple number of ways to sign up for single-stream recycling.