Bear Yuba Land Trust and SYRCL announce winner of “Pick up the Poop” sign contest

After seven months of nail biting, the panel of judges from Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) and South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) is pleased to announce Zoe Murkovich, who is 9 years old, is the winner of the much anticipated ‘Pick up the Poop’ sign contest.

The winning artwork will be made into signs that will appear at trailheads throughout the community with a message that reminds people to clean up after their pets.

The subject of dog poop on local trails is near and dear to Murkovich’s heart. Her grandparents – Grandma Jaede and Papa Greg – live in Grass Valley and the family often hike together.

“I think it’s better for the earth not to have a bunch of dog poop on it.  The idea of being on a hike and stepping on slimy dog poop is pretty disgusting to think about,” young Murkovich said.

With 78.2 million dogs living in the U.S. collectively depositing 10 million tons of waste every year, dog waste on trails is a huge problem locally and throughout the U.S. Dog waste is a major contributor to storm water pollution. Rain and melting snow that flows across trails is carried to creeks, rivers and lakes threatening the health of fish and other aquatic life.

Dog feces commonly contains harmful bacteria and parasites such as fecal coliform bacteria, which can spread diseases like Giardia, Salmonella, and Campylobacter, causing serious illness in humans. Locally, many dog owners choose not to clean up after their pets or leave bags of dog waste along the trail or at the trailhead to the disgust of trail users.

Murkovich’s mother, Britney Yunker is thrilled about the announcement. She says her daughter, already a budding young artist in the Reno area, approached the drawing with great gusto.

“What nine year old doesn’t want to draw, joke about and talk about poop. When her grandmother, who lives in Grass Valley, told us about it, Zoe immediately ran to get her pen and notebook.  Clearly the subject spoke to her!” Yunker said.

Murkovich has been an artist since she was two years old. Recently her artwork has appeared in several well-attended gallery showings and this spring, she will hold a 7-week show at the McKinley Arts and Culture Center in Reno.

Known for her creatures and animals, Murkovich has completed several commissioned drawings of cats, dogs, horses and a mythical creature known as Tahoe Tessie. A portion of every art sale goes to Animal Ark Wildlife Sanctuary.

“I like to do line-drawings of crocodiles, alligators, guinea pigs, mice, cats, dragons, unicorns, pegasuses and horses.  They usually have regular-sized bodies and really skinny arms,” she explained.

Murkovich is hopeful that people will see her signs on the trail and realize it’s the cool thing to do to clean up after their dogs. Signs will be installed later this spring.

To learn more about Zoe Murkovich, her art and upcoming showings, visit: www.zoescreatures.com.

Bear Yuba Land Trust is a community supported non-profit organization that has conserved nearly 9,000 acres of land, hosts an active trekking program and has built over 35 miles of local public trails.

The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) is a community-supported non-profit watershed group dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Yuba River.

-Laura Brown, Bear Yuba Land Trust

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