by Pam Zubeck
There's been a lot said about the heroic efforts of firefighters to squelch the Waldo Canyon fire, which ignited on June 23 and put 32,000 people out of their homes in the following days due to evacuations.
But there are lots of hero stories to be told, and one of them involves a small band of Air Force Academy cadets who pitched in to help make sure that residents of Ute Pass didn't return to a pig sty when they were allowed to to back to their homes July 1.
Sheriff Terry Maketa says bears infiltrated the Cascade, Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls area during the evacuated days, and as we all know, bears aren't very good housekeepers.
Their rummaging left those towns and their environs pretty trashy. Maketa didn't want residents to be depressed by such a sight when they returned, so he was happy when 20 cadets stepped up to do a dirty job that most of the rest of us would shun.
Academy spokesman Meade Warthen tells us that 20 cadet civil engineering majors volunteered to clean up trash created by bears, raccoons and other wildlife in the Ute Pass residential area.
"They spent about three hours on Saturday morning cleaning up before residents returned home after evacuating because of the Waldo Canyon fire," he writes in an e-mail. "This effort is part of an on-going civic outreach endeavor by our cadets, who conducted more than 31,000 hours of their time last year on various volunteer projects. They expect to match or exceed that number this year."