Conservation corps plays important role in maintaining trails, streams

September 21, 2010

Members turn corps stint into eco-centric jobs

Jenn Woodham (foreground) and James Evangelisti, Washington Conservation Corps members, add fencing along Taylor Creek south of Issaquah. By Warren Kagarise

The teams maintaining the trails on state and King County lands near Issaquah often include members of the Washington Conservation Corps — a fresh-out-of-college bunch eager to earn experience in the environmental field.

Like the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the 21st-century equivalent enlists young adults to tackle habitat and infrastructure projects.

“There are a lot of good public works projects that they’re doing out there,” state Department of Ecology spokesman Curt Hart said.

Members from far-flung corners of the United States populate the program. Some recruits, unable to land a job in a sour economy, turned to the program to burnish their résumés and earn a steady paycheck. Other members brought a background in environmental studies to the role. Many expressed a desire to learn about life in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to trail projects, crews yank invasive plants from public lands, plant native flora and restore creek habitat.

Washington Conservation Corps teams conducted trail maintenance on Tiger Mountain in the past year. Earlier projects included habitat restoration along Issaquah Creek.

Members also race to disaster-stricken areas to render assistance.

“Come rain, floods, shine, fires, they’re there,” Hart said.

In April, the state Department of Ecology dispatched 30 Washington Conservation Corps members and supervisors to clean up debris and set up shelters after a tornado tore through Yazoo City, Miss.

For residents in the aftermath of a natural disaster, “our WCC crews may be the first government people these people see,” Hart said.

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Council seeks to fine-tune food-packaging ordinance

August 24, 2010

Less than eight weeks before a landmark food-packaging ordinance goes into effect, city leaders plan to fine-tune the legislation to compensate for fast-melting compostable straws, foil-backed sandwich wrappers and other potential pitfalls.

In a milestone decision late last year, Issaquah became the first Eastside city to ban polystyrene food containers and instead require containers and utensils fashioned from compostable materials. The ban goes into effect Oct. 1 — but businesses can ask to be exempt until early next year.

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Changes coming for some trash customers

July 6, 2010

Trash pickup for about 900 customers in South Cove and Greenwood Point could improve soon.

On July 10, the trash collector for the area, Allied Waste, plans to deliver garbage and yard waste carts to customers without the carts. Customers should start using the new carts next week.

The updated service agreement OK’d by the City Council in April calls for Allied Waste to provide free wheeled garbage carts for all residents in the neighborhoods, as well as free curbside electronics pick-up.

Customers can also recycle more items, including plastic cups, trays and bags; clean aluminum foil and trays; clean paper latte cups; textiles; lids three inches and larger in diameter; and small metal appliances, such as toasters.

Polystyrene — known by the brand name Styrofoam — cannot be put out for recycling.

Old cans, carts and containers can be recycled starting this week. Residents should put out old containers on collection day and place a large note indicating “recycle” on the container. Unmarked containers will not be picked up.

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Quality of drinking water exceeds standards

June 22, 2010

Issaquah tap water exceeds water-quality standards set by state and federal regulators.

Officials announced the findings in the annual water-quality report issued June 16, and mailed the report to residents in early June.

The city purchased and produced 751.1 million gallons of drinking water last year. Issaquah customers used 693.4 million gallons of water during the same period.

City customers use water drawn from the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer. The city has four wells to the underground water source — a pair in the northeastern part of the city and another pair in the northwestern part. The wells vary from 100 feet to 400 feet deep.

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Quality of Issaquah drinking water exceeds standards

June 22, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. June 22, 2010

Issaquah tap water exceeds water-quality standards set by state and federal regulators.

Officials announced the findings in the annual water-quality report issued Wednesday, and mailed the report to residents in early June. Read the complete report here.

The city purchased and produced 751.1 million gallons of drinking water last year. Issaquah customers used 693.4 million gallons of water during the same period.

City customers use water drawn from the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer. The city has four wells to the underground water source — a pair in the northeastern part of the city and another pair in the northwestern part. The wells vary from 100 to 400 feet deep.

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Trash changes could extend landfill’s life

February 23, 2010

The driver of a Waste Management garbage truck at Southeast Andrews Street and Fifth Avenue Southeast wheels a residential garbage bin to the dumping lift Feb. 18. By Greg Farrar

Trash could be hauled off less often for Issaquah residents, as city and county officials explore ways to increase recycling and cut the amount of garbage headed to the landfill south of Issaquah.

Jeff Gaisford, the recycling and environmental services manager for the King County Solid Waste Division, said the agency wants cities to switch to every-other-week garbage collection to cut costs for residents and reduce impact on Cedar Hills Regional Landfill. The landfill sprawls across 920 acres just south of city limits.

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Fire roars through woodpile at Cedar Grove Composting

August 18, 2009

cedar-grove-fire-copy

A compost fire at Cedar Grove Composting Aug. 17 is fought by a stream of water from a tank truck. Maple Valley Fire Department tankers, company trucks, bulldozers and backhoes also attacked the fire. By Greg Farrar

A fire at Cedar Grove Composting sent smoke billowing into the air early Aug. 17 as crews worked to contain a blaze that began in a woodpile.

Though firefighters quickly contained the blaze at the composting facility south of Issaquah, authorities said the heap could smolder for hours after flames were doused.

Maple Valley Fire & Life Safety crews responded to a report of a fire at about 5:45 a.m. Flames engulfed a compost pile and sent smoke billowing into the air. Firefighters contained the blaze within 45 minutes while news helicopters hovered overhead.

Maple Valley Fire Chief Larry Rude said the blaze was “very, very well contained” by 9:30 a.m.

Crews sealed the smoldering area beneath dirt and compost to starve the flames of oxygen. Rude said light winds and quick action by Cedar Grove employees prevented the fire from spreading. Read more

City hosts free sustainability movie night

July 21, 2009

On July 22, city officials are hosting a free movie night in which the documentary “King Corn” will play. This is the third film that the city has had this year on sustainability. The aim of these quarterly movie nights is for local residents to become aware of ways to help sustain and maintain the environment around them. Read more