NEAR CLE ELUM, Wash. -- Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest officials say sequester related cuts mean there is no money for the annual summer cleanup programs in campgrounds.
Usually, money is set aside to pay non-profit groups like Friends of the Trail (FOT) to make regular trash runs through primitive campgrounds.
“We had a small amount of money to come over here and clean up, not just campsites, but abandoned trailer houses. You know, stuff out in the river,” said FOT Founder Wade Holden as he packed up beer bottles from a campsite on the Cle Elum River Monday.
Holden said he was working on his day off and paying for his own fuel for his truck. He would normally be using the fund to bring a volunteer crew to the river on a routine basis.
He said the garbage piles up every weekend; now it will pile up all summer long.
“So when we’re not down here picking this stuff up and doing it is as efficiently as we can, it just gets drug down to the river or the wind starts blowing in everywhere,” he said.
The Forest Service is trying to keep up with the trash and has crews assigned to pick it up, but Holden said that will end when the Forest Service recalls its trash collectors to fight fires this summer.