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Four years in, it takes team effort, funds and patience to clean up illegal Lake Alice canyon dump | Photo gallery
Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Ed Dodd, a project manager with Friends of the Trail, secures the collapsing trunk of an old car, so it won't break off and slide down the hill as the car is towed out. The car had an extra engine block in the trunk, and the weight was crushing the car.
Jeff Moe, left, runs the controls to haul up a huge junk car from the ravine turned illegal dump site off Lake Alice Road. This car was one of the oldest and most decayed that they found, and they had to remove the guardrail to get it out in one piece.
Immediately after towing a car out of the ravine on Lake Alice Road, Friends of the Trail workers started sweeping away the debris and dirt that came up with the car.
Morgan John helps a junk tire over the guardrail on Lake Alice Road Friday. Friends of the Trail, with funding from John's Solid Waste Division, completed the cleanup of a dump site here, nearly four years after they started.
The post came out more easily than the car did, but that was a pleasant surprise in this project, a four-year effort that was finally finished in early November.
Ed Dodd and Wade Holden, a project manager and president, respectively, of Friends of the Trail, speculated on whether the post, holding up a stretch of guardrail on Lake Alice Road, really was 11 feet long, as it was slowly lifted straight up and out, and whether it would be reusable. It was, on both counts.
The post and its stretch of guardrail were neatly lined up on the edge of the road so the men, could get back to the real reason they were there, hauling about three decades worth of junk out of an illegal dumpsite in the ravine alongside the road.
A big mess
A monster of a car was perched just on the edge of the hill, so old and rusted through that it was slowly crumpling under the tension of the cables holding it there. The car couldn’t come out until the guardrail did, because it was so brittle. Jeff Moe of Triple J Towing had been able to hoist several other abandoned cars — “I’d say eight, if you count all the pieces,” says John — out right over the rail, but this one would have collapsed and slid in pieces back down the hill if he’d tried.
With the rail removed, though, and the back end secured in case it snapped off, he made fairly quick work of pulling the car out. Then Dodd, Holden and John got busy sweeping away the muddy trail of dirt and debris the car had dragged onto the road with it.
Moe had worked with Friends of the Trail on occasion, so he knew the drill. He’d already moved down the hill to drag up a few remaining tires and the bed of a pickup truck.
Dodd estimated that over the four years that Friends of the Trail had worked on this site, they’d pulled out almost 250 tires, six or seven large appliances, seven or eight abandoned cars, and loads of miscellaneous trash. He was encouraged to see that not much new trash had joined the existing pile during the cleanup.
“This stuff, for the most part, found its way here before the guard rail was put in,” which was some time in the 80s, he said.
The project took a while to complete because of all the parties involved, John said. The dump is on privately held land, so the Korean land-owner had to consent, then Solid Waste, the Roads Division, Friends of the Trail and the towing company all had to coordinate their schedules.
King County agreed to pay for the cleanup, since the dumpsite is above a stream. The county contracts with Friends of the Trail, one of the only organizations in the state to do major dump site cleanups, for local work, and although Holden said they are making about $20,000 less than they did in 2008, leaving him as the only full-time employee, funding is stable for now.
Cleaning up illegal dump sites is an ongoing effort of the county’s solid waste division. Anyone with information or suspicions about one is asked to call the county’s illegal dump site hotline, (206) 296-7483 (SITE) or toll-free at 1 (866) 431-7483.