Our opinion: Tired of tires? Time to clean up!

The existence of that dumping ground is hardly a secret, and there have been people calling for its removal. Terry Carter of Brattleboro raised the question at Town Meeting, and that got people thinking about that old dumping ground — and what we could do about it.

Believe it or not, it's not as easy as it looks to pull a bunch of tires out of a wetland. You can't just go wading in there in search of old Michelins. There are property owners' rights to consider. (Even if you're doing well by doing good, trespassing is against the law.) There are also state agencies responsible for environmental cleanup, and all the regulations that those agencies must enforce. Then, those tires need to be properly disposed of, and that doesn't happen for free.

No wonder those tires have been in there for so long. That's not an excuse, but it explains a few things.

So we're pleased to report in today's Reformer that the Connecticut River Conservancy will be seeking volunteers to help haul out those tires and dispose of them properly, as part of its Source to Sea River Cleanup in September.

There's plenty positive about this opportunity, aside from the obvious.

Kathy Urffer, the river steward for CRC, tells us her organization has past experience with handling tire dump cleanups, having removed 1,400 of them from illegal dumping grounds last year alone. They've worked with automotive and tire businesses to get hauling and disposal services donated for these efforts. And they're advocating for an incentive system for the recovery of used tires as a means of preventing future dumping.

While any volunteer cleanup effort is welcome, Brattleboro residents can be reassured that an organization with a proven record and some expertise in dealing with this specific problem is willing to step forward and lead.

This is Vermont. We invented Green Up Day. We pride ourselves on responsible stewardship of our environment. And a hiking trail in our community — in fact, all open space in our community — ought to reflect that commitment.

The West River Trail is a tremendous fitness and quality of life asset for the community, promoting the enjoyment of the outdoors for residents and visitors. Removing reminders of our past disrespect for the environment from that landscape can only improve that experience for all.

We look forward to this cleanup taking place.


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