A major cleanup to remove more than 9 tons of debris along the Yakima and Naches Rivers is set for next Wednesday. The Yakima County Commissioners say they'll use a helicopter to airlift the garbage and other debris.

The work starts next Wednesday morning

The work starts at 9:00 am next Wednesday and county officials say the debris is from six abandoned encampments on public properties in the 13-mile Selah to Union Gap  area. They say the debris includes includes  human  waste,  garbage,  and  syringes. A press release says "the waste is located on islands in the Yakima River, along the floodways, and in other fragile areas difficult to reach by foot or to access by heavy equipment."
The Yakima County Commissioners say they decided to airlift the material out of the area to protect water, the ecosystem and to make sure "that waste will not be washed  downstream during the next high-water event."

The cleanup is needed to make areas healthier

Authorities say abandoned camps pose a serious health risk to people and the environment. County Commission Chair Amanda McKinney says "hepatitis B among campers, wildfires, and risk to first responders who rescue campers during flooding events put  our  entire  community  at  risk. Our  goal is to encourage campers to avail themselves of sanctioned shelters, and to return the river areas to the public purpose for which they are intended.”
County workers were busy for weeks collecting and bagging the debris for the airlift. 75 bags weighing about 250 pounds each are waiting to be removed next week.

Portions of the Greenway will be closed during the cleanup

County officials say the section of the Greenway between Boise Pond and the McGuire Playground will be closed to pedestrians and cyclists during the airlift to ensure public safety as loads are lifted from staging areas and deposited at pick-up locations. The entire airlift operation is expected to take about 6 hours to complete.

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