If laid end-to-end, the number of road miles cleaned by the Snohomish County Litter Wranglers since the end of April would stretch from Everett nearly to Mt. Shasta in California. The pilot Clean Sweep Litter Program was such a success that county officials will bring the Litter Wranglers back in the spring of 2018.
“This program was created in response to residents’ concerns about litter marring our beautiful landscape and it is an excellent example of how the county can create innovative programs that have a big impact,” said Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive in a press release. “Extending this pilot program into an ongoing service for our communities will help maintain the beauty of our environment and offer residents a service to keep our roadways clean.”
During 2017, the Litter Wranglers collected more than 4,300 bags of litter and cleaned nearly 440 miles of unincorporated roadways.
The six-person crew of seasonal county employees will complete their first season at the end of the October. They have been aided by Snohomish County residents calling and emailing about locations with excessive litter. The Litter Wranglers respond within less than a week to reported locations, grouping sites to be more efficient and effective.
“We are simply responding to residents’ needs with this program,” Snohomish County Public Works Director Steve Thomsen said in a press release. “The public participation has been a great benefit to the program.”
Residents have also voiced their appreciation of the Litter Wranglers’ work through social media and in their on-site interactions with the crew.
“The number of road miles cleaned during the first season is more than one quarter of the 1,600 miles we manage. I thought we would have 200-300 miles of roads picked up,” Snohomish County Solid Waste Director Matt Zybas said in a press release. “It has gone far beyond my expectations and it has become an invaluable part of our day-to-day operations.”
The benefits of the program extends beyond helping to preserve the county’s natural beauty. The Litter Wranglers enable road maintenance crews to stay focused on maintaining and repairing the county’s vital infrastructure by arriving at clean work sites.
The Litter Wranglers received training on how to safely deal with litter while working along the side of the road amid traffic. That training allows them to work in areas not accessible by other programs.
Residents can participate in picking up litter by joining the county’s Adopt-A-Road program, which is a partnership between volunteers and Snohomish County Public Works to keep roadsides free of litter. Call program coordinator Adele Barilleaux at 425-388-3137 for more information.