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River renewal: Fall City residents rally to clean up their stretch of Snoqualmie with help from rafters—and artists

Organizers and volunteers of the Snoqualmie River Fish Festival get creative as a long-awaited river clean-up and treasure hunt nears. From left are Dan Colvin; Kim O’Hagan; Marci Sanders, event co-chair; Beryl Knauth; Annelise Ring; Carol Whitaker; Sharlett Driggs, co-chair; Mike Saffer and Cynthia Gerdes. The public is invited to join the festival, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Fall City Art Park. For details, see page 5. - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Organizers and volunteers of the Snoqualmie River Fish Festival get creative as a long-awaited river clean-up and treasure hunt nears. From left are Dan Colvin; Kim O’Hagan; Marci Sanders, event co-chair; Beryl Knauth; Annelise Ring; Carol Whitaker; Sharlett Driggs, co-chair; Mike Saffer and Cynthia Gerdes. The public is invited to join the festival, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Fall City Art Park. For details, see page 5.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

On a warm sunny day, you might think about taking a trip to the river, and you’d have plenty of company. On that same warm day, while you’re floating gently down the Snoqualmie, Del and Nancy Moore might be making two or three trips to the river. That’s what it takes, some weekends, to keep the put-in and take-out areas free of litter, to both welcome and set an example for the next group of rafters to visit Fall City.

“Nobody else is doing it,” says Del, a longtime Fall City resident and member of the Fall City Community Association. The Moores are acting for the FCCA when they visit the Plum 1 put-in, the Plum 2 boat launch, and a couple of take-out sites within Fall City on high river traffic days, to tidy up the trash collection areas, picking up litter and tying off full garbage bags.

Del was correct when he said that, but things have changed. Nobody aside from the FCCA had been doing much about the trash that some careless floaters left behind after their days of recreation, until a couple of weeks ago when an online conversation on the Fall City Community group brought out the best in the community’s residents.

Since then, FCCA has received an additional $400 in unsolicited donations to build additional trash bins for the most popular river access points, Fall City Arts has enlisted volunteers for its Sept. 22 river clean-up and treasure-hunt event, and one Boy Scout troop has announced plans to do an end-of-season float down the river to pick up litter, as well.

"I was shocked," Del says, of the response from the community.

He had posted a message to the community group around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, to update readers on the FCCA's ongoing efforts to keep the river areas clean—mainly the trash bins which the Moores kept tidy, replacing bags as they were filled and picking up the parking lots—and to gently remind the group that most of the floaters were courteous, and grateful for the clean-up work. He noted that the FCCA planned to apply for a county grant to build more trash bins for next summer and, half-joking, asked if there were any "angels" in the group who might want to help.

Then he logged off, and embarked on a busy day of errands. The online group members got busy, too, pledging their own money and challenging others to do the same. By the time Del got home that evening, the group had pledged more than $400, enough for six new trash bins and to reimburse Del for the one he built at his own expense, along with some volunteer help to build them.

"I got home and Nancy told me 'You've got to get online!'" Del said, laughing.

The next day, Del and Nancy, who is the recording secretary for the FCCA, met with a group of the volunteers and contributors, including Kirk Harris of the Fall City Parks Commission, Cindy Spiry, the director of the environment and Natural Resources Department for the Snoqualmie Tribe, and Nancy Myhre, to illustrate how the bins are built, and how they help.

Most rafters, the Moores said, are responsible, and clean up after themselves, especially now that they have a convenient way to do it.

"We have actually gone out of our way to talk face to face with people on the bank, and we have seen that most people are very cooperative," Del said.

"They'll often thank us for what we're doing, here and along the road," said Nancy. Also, she said, "The people that use it aren't just the floaters. A lot of local families come here, too."

Not, however, the Moores.

"He doesn't want to go in a tube," says Nancy, just as Del is saying "I'm campaigning for a new boat!"

Regardless of their vehicle, river users had no convenient places to dispose of the wrappers for their new rafts and tubes on the way in, nor their empty beverage containers on the way out, and litter was scattered along the river before the FCCA got involved.

Fall City is unincorporated, with no formal government to address this type of problem. Three summers ago, the FCCA decided to tackle the issues of "trash, sanitation, parking and traffic, and an overlooked police presence," Del said.

"There was a horrendous amount of floaters in 2010… they just overwhelmed us completely," he explained. So the FCCA began small, adopting four popular river access points to keep clean, providing trash bins, and arranging for Friends of the Trail to collect and dispose of the bagged trash each weekend.

Next year, they were going to get bigger, applying for a grant to fund new trash bins. That, of course, was already taken care of by the community "-- which means now we can apply for a grant for something else!" says Del.

Two new bins have been built already, so each site the FCCA manages has at least one trash container available, with more to come. The Moores are still taking responsibility for keeping the sites cleaned up and have perfected their technique: Del ties off the full bags of trash and puts empty bags into the cans, while Nancy makes the rounds of the parking lot to pick up stray garbage.

"The two of us can hit all four or five sites in two and a half hours," says Del proudly.

They wouldn't turn down some help, though, and are hopeful that Spiry's involvement could lead to some volunteer help during the summers.

And they're already thinking of other reasons to apply for that county grant. Nancy would like to see something done about parking along the river. Many summer weekends, she says, she's seen cars lining the street from Plum 1 out to S.R. 202. One day, she counted 198.

"Parking is a problem, and they do walk into the street," she said, sighing.

Del thought "Pack it in, pack it out" signs might be helpful.

The Fall City Community Association meets the second Friday of each month. For more information, visit www.fallcity.org.

Above, supporting efforts to keep the river areas clean and trash-free, Kirk Harris, Nancy Moore, Del Moore, Julie Spiry and Nancy Myhre survey one of the trash bins that Fall City Community Association plans to put at river access points.

Below, trash found by the Snoqualmie River is the target of a renewed clean-up effort by Fall City residents.

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