Couple cleaning up local forests

NORTH BEND - When Wade Holden encounters an abandoned freezer wrapped in duct tape and stinking of rotten fish, he does what should have been done in the first place: he hauls it to a dump.

In 1996, Holden and his wife, Tania, founded Friends of the Trail, a nonprofit organization aimed at cleaning up public lands and waterways. They have removed more than 700 tons of raw garbage.

"Garbage is bulky, but it's light ... [700 tons] is a lot of crap," Holden said.

Raw garbage isn't the only item the group is hauling out of local woods and waterways. Friends of the Trail has extracted more than 300 vehicles, thousands of tires and hundreds of appliances from Washington's wilderness areas.

In 1992, Holden relocated from Texas to North Bend. A self-appointed backpacking junkie, he came to the area to hike the beautiful mountains. While exploring the Snoqualmie River's Middle Fork area, Holden was appalled to find widespread dumping of garbage and general abuse toward the land.

"The place used to be a screaming hell-hole," Holden said.

Holden credits one particular backpacking trip for changing his life and acting as the genesis for his organization.

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