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Earth Day cleanup tackles illegal dump

Snoqualmie Tribe member Jacob Mullen goes to work on a ruined camp trailer with a splitter during Earth Day restoration efforts on tribal elder Earl Moses’ land. “It’s nice to clean up Earl’s property,” Mullen said. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Snoqualmie Tribe member Jacob Mullen goes to work on a ruined camp trailer with a splitter during Earth Day restoration efforts on tribal elder Earl Moses’ land. “It’s nice to clean up Earl’s property,” Mullen said.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Reclaiming a Snoqualmie Tribe elder’s land from an unofficial garbage dump was the Earth Day challenge for a dozen-plus tribal members and employees on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.

Tribal members gathered at the Earl Moses property on Reinig Road near Snoqualmie to gather scrap, hulk vehicles, old tires and other debris dumped on the site, which overlooks the Snoqualmie River.

The land had been in Moses’ family for decades. At first, it was just a place where extended family members and friends hauled unwanted stuff, Tribal Environmental Natural Resources Director Cindy Spiry said.

“The problem is, once waste starts accumulating, other people drive by, see it and think they can dump their stuff,” Spiry said. “That’s what happened.”

“People that [Moses} doesn’t even know have dropped stuff off on his property. They pull up and dump it down the hill.”

“There’s a lot of responsibility around town for the stuff that’s accumulated here,” said Tribal Administrator Matt Mattson.

Volunteers who cleaned up the site found waste from construction jobs among the wrecked trailers, crushed campers, old fiberglass showers and other debris.

Volunteers cleaning up the site found waste from construction jobs among the wrecked trailers, crushed campers, old fiberglass showers and other debris.

“We want to get it back to its original, pristine state,” Spiry said. Plans call for new signs to go up on the site as part of a community outreach effort, “to prevent this from happening again.”

“You can’t imagine how excited I am,” said King County Code Enforcement Officer Brenda Wood. “I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time.”

“We have a program in King County for people who dump on the elderly,” said Wood. She provided permits to remove junk cars from the site, and was able to secure 15 vouchers for free dump trips to clean up the Moses property and other areas on 50 acres of land near Snoqualmie.

Manpower was provided by the tribe. Mattson gave tribal employees the option of volunteering at the cleanup in lieu of their regular Wednesday jobs.

“It’s a great cause,” Mattson said. “It’s reclaiming the allotment here. It’s close proximity to the river and wetland. We’re trying to clean it up, and it’s an appropriate day for it. We’ve got a lot of people out here, getting dirty.”

Once the site is cleaned up, volunteers will restore vegetation and bring in native plants, which will take up some of the contaminants in the soil. A water and soil assessment will happen this fall.

The cleanup process in the area, however, is likely to take years.

Tribal members young and old took part in the cleanup.

“I don’t mind getting dirty and having fun at the same time,” said tribal member Dalenna Wilmot. “It’s doing something good for my community and my elder.”

“It’s awesome, seeing something accomplished by many people,” said tribe member Michelle Wood. “It’s one of our elders. It’s Earth Day. Why not volunteer?”

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