Volunteers helped clean up shorelines around the county, including in Arlington, as part of Earth Day this year.
The Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee organized five cleanups around the county, including at the local Twin Rivers County Park, to help residents think about how to prevent plastic from entering local waterways.
The volunteer citizens advisory committee works to protect the marine environment of the county.
“They had an idea that they wanted to participate in the Plastic Free Salish Sea campaign,” said Elisa Dawson, a Snohomish County senior planner and one of the organizers of the Earth Day event.
The campaign began in San Juan County and more information about it is available at plasticfreesalishsea.org.
“The goal is really to make a clean waterway,” said Dawson. “A big element of that is making sure plastic trash doesn’t get in there. Really, we want to keep all trash out of the water, but the focus of this campaign is plastic."
The plastic free initiative started when local whales were studied and it was found that their stomachs contained a good deal of trash, primarily plastic.
Volunteers went out during Earth Day this year on April 22 to all of the five sites around the county.
“The river’s running pretty high so there wasn’t much access to the shoreline, but they are walking through the riparian vegetation [the environment near a stream or river] and picking through trash. A lot of that trash was deposited from floods and people,” said Adam Jackson, a watershed steward with the county’s Surface Water Management Department.
Jackson said the event went well at Arlington’s site.
“We’ve picked up a good amount of trash,” he said.
In total, 550 pounds of trash were collected during the event, according to Dawson.
The cleanup effort is meant to improve the local river environments and the water quality for the Puget Sound.
“It’s Earth Day and as part of that keeping garbage out of our ocean and the Puget Sound is important. A lot of our marine critters end up ingesting a lot of this as it breaks down,” said Jackson.
Ed Siedlak, a volunteer from the Washington State University Snohomish County Extension, helped talk to families that came to Arlington’s site.
“We’re such a throwaway society and we still are. If we’re going to do anything about the environment, education is where it’s going to have to come from,” he said. “Our environment can’t just continue to absorb our trash."
This was the first time the county’s Marine Resource Committee put on an Earth Day event to support the Plastic Free Salish Sea campaign and Dawson said it went well.
“We hope to continue cleanups and do some other outreach,” said Dawson.