Ask Eartha: Who is Tim McClure? |

Ask Eartha: Who is Tim McClure?

Dear Eartha,

I saw some posters around town for the 30th Annual Tim McClure Benefit. Who is Tim McClure, and what does he have to do with High Country Conservation Center?

— Mark, Breckenridge

Mark, I’m so glad you saw the poster! Tim McClure may not be a household name, but he’s an important figure in the history of Summit County. In 1976 Tim founded the recycling movement in Summit County. He transformed the community’s love for the environment into a real-deal recycling program. Today his work is carried out by Summit County Government and the High Country Conservation Center.

I’ll give you the whole story here shortly, but the poster you saw is for an event — the Tim McClure Benefit — held to honor his legacy while raising funds for the HC3 programs that continue his vision. It’s a super-fun night with live music, wine tastings and beer samples from seven Summit County brewers. It all goes down Friday, Feb. 22 in Breckenridge. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

Summit’s Grassroots Recycling History

Back in 1976, Tim McClure founded Summit Recycling Project as a nonprofit educational-experimental organization to promote resource recovery and to reduce wastefulness. Tim’s program flourished for seven years as he and volunteers collected recyclable materials from county residents and began to foster the conservation ethic that still exists in our community today.

Unfortunately, Tim’s lobbying for government assistance and funding was unsuccessful, forcing him to close SRP’s doors in February 1983. Two years later, Tim died in an avalanche.

In 1989, Bob and Rose Wentzell took on Tim McClure’s vision to renew SRP’s operations. One day each week, two recycling centers began accepting nine recyclable materials. In 2006, Summit County Government institutionalized the nonprofit’s recycling operations into a stable government department.

Today, Summit County’s recycling program accepts more than 20 different recyclable materials. And since voters passed 1A last fall, the county will be accepting even more materials starting this summer.

Beyond Diversion

After careful thought, SRP changed its name to HC3 in January 2006. The organization’s board and staff realized that even with the significant shift in recycling operations, there was more work to be done, and the mission was not complete. In fact, the change gave HC3 the perfect opportunity to do more work on diversion education and formally address other resource conservation issues.

HC3 continues to serve all of Summit County with programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase recycling, conserve water, educate K-12 students and increase local food production. As local tourism increases and our population continues to climb, the need for these programs is now greater than ever.

Drink Beer. Do Good.

While HC3 and its programs have grown over the years, the group remains a small but mighty team dedicated to resource conservation. And they still know how to throw a great party. After all, this is the 30th anniversary of the Tim McClure Benefit.

Taking place on Friday, Feb. 22 at the DoubleTree hotel in Breckenridge, the event will celebrate Tim’s legacy as a local conservation pioneer. Admission ($45 in advance or $50 at the door) includes an HC3 tasting glass and unlimited beer samples from local breweries. Wine tastings will also be provided.

Me? I’ll be on the dance floor, moving to the sounds of Americana bluegrass band Ms. Amy and the Jet Set. There’s also a huge silent auction, one of the county’s largest. Tickets and more information are available at

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at

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