Mystery litter washing up on Snoqualmie River



Posted on December 24, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 24 at 6:30 PM

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. -- They are in the river, they are in the bushes, they're in the trees - light green sheets of plastic dot the banks of the Snoqualmie River, from the falls to miles downstream.

In some places large white pieces of the same fabric hang like sails from trees and bushes.

"What are those?" asked one fisherman in Fall City.

Dozens of Christmas Eve fishermen fishing in the rain for prized winter steelhead are asking the same question: "What are those things?"

A closer look usually clears up the confusion. They are bags - sand bags, sans sand. One mystery solved, another begins.

Why are there empty sandbags all over the Snoqualmie? Some fishermen believe they came from construction projects under way upstream and we were able to confirm it.

A Puget Sound Energy Spokesman Roger Thompson said he believes the bags came from the hydroelectric refit they are conducting above Snoqualmie Falls.

Last week's heavy rains apparently swept through the construction site, taking the bags downstream where they bounced around and broke open.

The bags were there to protect the river from mud and silt. Thompson said the bags were filled with river-safe sand, and work is already under way to clean up the mess. Contractors in small inflatable boats could be seen fighting the current to reach bags hung up on rocks and trees.

Thompson said many private landowners are also picking them up. He said work will continue until all those that can be retrieved are.