LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – You’ve probably seen them; piles of tires dumped illegally across Colorado. Now, a million of those discarded tires have been removed and the majority have been recycled thanks to Colorado’s Waste Tire Program.
It’s run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
But there are still many more to clean up. State health officials say they have a list of 50 potential sites, including a huge pile of tires just outside of Denver in an area that is rapidly developing.
“This is Happy Dog Ranch,” said John Spillane.
John and his wife, Bernadette, own Happy Dog Ranch in Littleton.
It is a place of beauty, a horse rescue and sanctuary on the edge of Chatfield State Park. You will find about 40 horses plus goats, chickens, llamas, one sheep, two very happy dogs and tires; tons and tons of tires.
“They’ve been here a long time, we think about 50 years,” John told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
When the Spillanes bought the property 13 years ago, the tires came with it. They were tightly packed in a ravine. Now, they’re being hauled out.
“Douglas County code enforcement notified us a few years ago about this site,” explained Brian Gaboriau, Waste Tire Grants Administrator for the Waste Program of the state health department.
With housing now exploding in the area, Gaboriau pushed Happy Dog Ranch to the top of the cleanup list.
“Every state has their challenges with waste tires,” said Gaboriau.
The mission in Colorado is to clean up illegal dump sites where the tires can trap water and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry diseases like the West Nile virus and where the mountain of tires could catch fire and release toxic chemicals.
“If a fire were to take place those tires would be really difficult to put out,” warned Gaboriau.
It’s estimated the work will cost more than $200,000.
“We didn’t think we could ever do it. It wasn’t in any budget we could ever foresee,” said Bernadette.
So the Spillanes are thankful the state program is funded with a .55 fee tacked on new tire sales.
“Getting that out of there, you can already feel a difference,” said a delighted Bernadette.
Eliminating an eyesore makes Happy Dog Ranch even happier.
Through the waste tire program, Colorado is able to clean up from five to 10 sites a year. The majority of the tires are recycled, shredded for fuel, sports fields, rubberized mulch and more.