Dept. of Ecology Awards Volunteers for Clean Up Efforts - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Dept. of Ecology Awards Volunteers for Clean Up Efforts

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KENNEWICK - The Washington state Department of Ecology will honor a group of citizens and local businesses today for their work cleaning up garbage along a Kennewick highway.

The group of volunteers will receive the state's highest environmental excellence award for cleaning up more than 20 tons of garbage at some 40 illegal dumpsites in the hills fringing Kennewick along Highway 397.

The volunteers were led by mountain bikers Mike Robinson, Al Potter and Russ Burtner, who decided to do something about the garbage mounting in Zintel Canyon, south of Canyon Lakes, where they had been bicycling for years.

Earlier this year, the trio organized cleanup crews and enlisted more than 50 people, representing other bicyclists, horsemen, hikers and Jeep club members, law firms, Scouts and retirees. They also recruited a local waste hauler to take the garbage and two area tire stores to dispose of more than 400 tires for free. Volunteers hauled away everything from personal papers to TV sets, mattresses, construction debris, an above ground pool, electronics and furniture - scattered over several miles of landscape. 

In response, the Benton County Sheriff's Office and local Health District have stepped up patrols in the area. Property owners are also taking steps to protect their property, posting no dumping signs, and in one case setting up cameras at his own expense. Four illegal dumpers caught on camera are now facing prosecution.

The Department of Ecology will present 11 Environmental Excellence Awards at the Kennewick City Council meeting Tuesday night, to Mike Robinson, Al Potter, Russ Burtner, Tim Goodman; Les Schwab Tire Stores - Andy Walker/Clearwater; Les Schwab Tire Stores - Rick Giddings/Columbia Center; Windermere Real Estate - Dave Retter; Waste Management - Jeff Wheatle; Help U Move - Russ Pogue; Flynn, Merriman & McKennon Law Firm- Jay Flynn; and JMS Inspections - James Sexton.

The meeting starts at 6:30 at Kennewick City Hall at 210 W. Sixth Avenue.