DNR staff, Puget SoundCorps crews remove debris from house that slid into Pilchuck River

Clean up crews remove house debris from Pilchuck River.
DNR staff and Puget SoundCorps crews spent two days cleaning up debris from a house that slid into the Pilchuck River. Photo: Toni Droscher/DNR

Last February, as a result of heavy rains and high water flows, a house that had been teetering near the edge of the bank along the Pilchuck River slid into the river. (Over the years, the river had shifted course and was eroding the bank out from under the house.)

When the house slid off its foundation, some of it remained on the bank, but a good deal of it fell into the river and broke apart and washed up on state-owned aquatic lands, which DNR manages on behalf of the people of this state. Much of the debris hung up in two bends of the river where logjams trapped the material.

Last week, two DNR staff and a crew of Puget SoundCorps members removed most of the debris during a two-day project. The debris consisted of siding, plywood, a metal door, electrical wires and outlets, plumbing materials, roof trusses, studs with nails, and even an automatic dishwasher. [Update 9/26/12: The debris collected filled a 30-yard dumpster and weighed nearly 4 tons.]

The first part of this year saw heavier-than-usual rains, and the water level of the river just this month became low enough to allow our team to get in and safely remove the materials. The debris from the house posed a risk to both the environmental health of the ecosystem and to public safety, as well as contributed to a visual nuisance.

Partners make removal possible
Next summer, Snohomish County, our partner in this cleanup effort, will remove the broken up concrete foundation and septic tank that fell into the river. DNR was already planning to clean up the site, but the county is applying for grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If they are successful, we could be reimbursed for up to nearly 88 percent of our project costs.  

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a hydraulic permit for the work to occur, and local staff at WDFW’s Region 4 office in Mill Creek provided  support for the clean-up effort.

Many thanks to the downstream neighbors who gave us access to the river through their properties: Mark Salser and Meika Decher of Polestar Farm and the Holy Cross Catholic Church on Highway 92 just east of Lake Stevens.

Check out more photos of the debris removal site.

About the Puget SoundCorps
The Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader AmeriCorps /Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) Program and gives returning veterans and young adults the opportunity to:

• Gain new skills in the environmental field.
• Earn money to further their education while helping our communities and environment.
Be part of the critical effort to restore, protect and preserve Puget Sound. 

Their work will help support the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda—the single playbook for setting priorities for and focusing on Puget Sound recovery and protection efforts.

The Puget SoundCorps employs young adults and veterans – building their job skills while they earn money to continue their education and help clean up Puget Sound.

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