April 27, 2013
Fishermen fished. Fish swam. Geese waddled.
Fawn Remington picked up garbage.
She was a startling figure at Willow Spring Ponds Saturday in blaze orange with a luminescent orange trash bag, her floppy-brimmed straw hat low on her face.
The 54-year-old Widefield resident moseyed along the edges of the ponds, the mid-morning sun sparkling off the glistening water.
Her quest led to snarls of fishing line, bottles, plastic bags, hooks, sinkers and other fishing flotsam.
Remington was one of about 75 volunteers at Fountain Creek Regional Park who came to pick up trash.
The event, in its first year, was called “Tackle the Trash” and included New Santa Fe Regional Trail and Baptist Road, Rock Island Trail and Falcon areas and Bear Creek Regional Park.
At Fountain, the creek got a makeover. So did the park and trails.
Only Remington chose the ponds, but this wasn’t a one-time thing. She and her husband, Mike, walk the area a few times a week and cleaning up is part of their routine.
El Paso County Commission Chair Dennis Hisey helped volunteers don vests, handed out trash bags and took photos. Then he joined the clean-up crew.
“We’ve had people come early,” he said. “This is a good time to clean up the parks.”
Remington explained the clues that led her to debris and the damage that could be done when left behind.
Fishing line, she said, is the most dangerous. She knew where it was because the fishing line would flash in the sun, its glint giving it away.
She scoured the ground for clumps of wood tangled in line.
“If it can get caught in this, imagine what it would do to an animal,” she said.
She hit it rich on the south side of the large pond, where the wind had blown most of the trash. Bags, line and bottles were here, and a bobber, which she gave to a fisherman named Wally Pitta.
The bigger lake, she said, “is terrible with trash. I could come back tomorrow and it would all be back again.”
The pond “is beautiful. I hate to think how people treat it like their back yard. This is everybody’s back yard.”
Sometimes, trash picking pays off. Remington knew a man who used a metal detector and found a ring. Remington’s treasure was less glitzy.
“You want to know what the weirdest thing was that I have ever found?” she said.
She held up a worm container. Inside were two live baby crayfish.
“These will go home to my aquarium,” she said.
She filled the container with water, then lowered it into her bag.
“Alright guys,” she said. “You’re going to hang out in there for awhile.”