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Group trying to keep Snohomish river road tidy from blatant dumping

SNOHOMISH — Neighbors concerned about litter met recently to figure out how to discourage dumping on the otherwise scenic Snohomish-Lowell River Road. They’re concerned about ongoing dumping but are starting with a cleaned up road after complaints led to a massive October cleanup.
“I drive that road three days a week. It’s horrific,” said organizer Michaelyn Nowack about the past conditions.
Nowack heard from more than a dozen neighbors on the Nextdoor website when she posted her accounts of blatant illegal littering.
She told neighbors that in just the past couple weeks she saw a man preparing to dump a mattress at a time when she couldn’t intervene. It ended up along the roadside.
Nowack has confronted people who were emptying their garbage onto the road before, but had the same results.
I “caught someone literally emptying his car full of possessions on the roadside,” Nowack shared on Nextdoor. “I asked him what he was doing and he said he was ‘reorganizing his car.’”
“Really, right here, next to the river? Not at a gas station where they have garbage cans or somewhere like that,” she asked. “The next day I could see the floor lamp, blankets, etc... abandoned there.”
That incident prompted Nowack to call the sheriff’s office for solutions.
Over a soup supper, she and a few neighbors heard from Snohomish County Sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Lewis earlier this month on what to do. 
Littering carries a $103 fine, while littering more than a cubic foot of material will set someone back $500. More than a cubic yard of trash means a $1,000 fine, similar to the $1,025 fine for tossing  smoking products that might ignite a fire.
The group learned about Litter Wranglers, a squad of seasonal county employees that try to respond within one week to trash complaints.
Residents’ complaints also prompted the heavy-duty fall cleanup which concluded earlier this month.
“Thanks to the efforts of Sgt. Ryan Boyer and Office of Neighborhoods ... working in conjunction with other county entities like Solid Waste, several vehicles, motorhomes and trash were removed from the area and the damaged gate was fixed to prevent further vehicles/motorhomes from entering,” Lewis said in an email.
Despite the recent cleanup, Nowack knows dumpers will return. In the meantime, she’s brainstorming ways to keep her commute looking cleaner.
She said she did learn at the meeting that it was helpful to take a picture from a safe distance of anyone seen dumping, including a license plate when possible, for the sheriff’s office. Officials say getting trash reported and cleaned up promptly can discourage
additional dumping.
One of Nowack’s wish-list items is a no go. The county no longer posts “no dumping” signs, said county public works supervisor Dale Valliant.
For most people inclined to litter, “there’s no real value to that, they know it’s already against the law,” Valliant said. Contrary to their purpose, he said, the signs might actually attract people to the spot, and “they never did any good.”
The Litter Wranglers rounded up more than 5,500 bags of litter and cleared 550 miles of road during their 2018 season. They return in spring, when residents can call 425-388-7500 to report problem areas for cleanup.
The county also encourages residents to join the Adopt-A-Road program.
To learn more, go to or contact Adele Barilleaux at 425-388-3137.



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