Promoting Recycling, While Luring Cyclists

By Beacon Staff

Each week the Echo Lake Café used to fill two dumpsters with trash. Bob and Christi Young, who own and run the café, are now down to one dumpster and one cardboard recycling bin. Bob Young says just about everything they get, from oranges to napkins, comes in cardboard, and half their dumpster would fill up with the flattened boxes.

“Cardboard’s something that’s easy to recycle and it’s trees. We should do it,” he says. The big, rectangular blue box is behind the café and one might now notice similar boxes at businesses around Bigfork: Grizzly Jack’s, Dairy Queen, the Bigfork Inn and Meissenburg Designs.

The bins come from and are picked up weekly by Evergreen Disposal. Young says he actually saves some money monthly because the fee for the recycle bin is lower and he throws less away.

“The more we get recycled, the cheaper it gets for all of us,” says Young. He says the Swan River School is also planning on installing a recycle bin in time for the next school year. “If you make it accessible and easy, people will do it.”

Along those lines, the Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork is working on the “Big Green: Keeping Bigfork Clean” campaign. Marissa Keenan and Chase Averill, the newest members of the CFBB, make up the “Green Team.” On the grand scale, they want to make Bigfork cleaner, greener and more efficient in the management of its waste.

“In the small scheme, we want to encourage people to bike into Bigfork,” says Keenan. The first project involves the simple idea of setting Bigfork up with bike racks, making it more attractive to access the village by bicycle.

Keenan and Averill are also working on the logistics of offering more recycling options in Bigfork, and the possibility of installing solar powered trash compactors and cans in town. Cardboard recycling by businesses in the village and larger community is already happening, and the bike racks are coming in time for the summer traffic.

“This is just one step in hopefully many in making Bigfork the greenest little village in the state,” says Keenan.

CFBB hopes the bike racks will prove handy in two ways: first, traffic. They hope this will make it easier to bike to shops around town; ameliorating the traffic congestion of summer and freeing up some parking spots. Second, there’s a large biking community throughout the country, and being able to tout the bike accessibility of Bigfork is something the CFBB wants to market. Keenan hopes to push their efforts beyond just the village area to include the Harvest Foods shopping area and Eagle Bend.

Another community group, Bigfork Rotary, took a big step toward connecting the Swan River School and Community Hall area with the village this spring. Work began on an addition of 2.75 miles to the existing Swan River Road bike path through land easements donated by property owners William and Debra Doney, the late Jack and Ruth White, and Sherry O’Hearn. This addition will link the road with the Swan River Nature Trail, allowing people to eventually have breakfast out at Echo Lake, then hop on their bike and head into the village.

So far bike racks have been installed near the nature trail, Electric Avenue Gifts, Eva Gates and Sliter Park, “and I actually saw bikes on them already,” says Keenan. Keenan says they’re hoping to put in racks at the high school the public dock, and at Brookies Cookies. The goal is to provide bike parking on the north, center, and south sides of the village. Funding for research, purchase and installation of the racks all comes from the Foundation.

As far as the recycling efforts, Young just says it makes sense for the businesses to get on board.

“It’ll just save them a lot of room, and you feel better,” Young said.