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Jun 01

Multiple Community Groups Collaborate to Pull Over 7 Tons of Tires from Swan Creek Park

Posted on June 1, 2021 at 11:49 AM by Allan Warren

SwanCreekEarthDay_PierceCountyStaffersInspired by the Swan Creek Limpieza in 2020, the Puyallup Tribe Sustainability Team hosted their own Swan Creek Cleanup as a part of the Puyallup Tribe’s multi-site Earth Day 2021, and as a finale of the Swan Creek Limpieza team’s week long cleanup in the days leading up to Earth Day. Pierce Conservation District and Tacoma Solid Waste were backbone supporters of the week long cleanup effort. Pictured here are volunteers who are colleagues at Pierce County, who helped recover thousands of pounds of tires from Swan Creek.

The East Tacoma Community Leadership Team (ETC CLT) got together again this year for another Swan Creek Limpieza Cleanup, this time in honor of Earth Day 2021.

Armed with trash pickers, the Brian Abbott Above & Beyond award winning team led multiple socially-distanced shifts of volunteers through some of Swan Creek’s most impacted areas. This year, the focus was finding hidden areas harboring aging, degrading tires that have been out of sight and out of mind for decades.

On Earth Day itself, the Puyallup Tribe Sustainability Team (PTST) took lead to host the cleanup’s finale, bringing shovels to dig up sunken tires, heavy duty carts, and most importantly, a tremendous spirit of collaboration. There’s a reason these tires have been in Swan Creek for so long: it’s incredibly hard to move them out! There are no roads close to the river, so every tire needs to be individually carried for miles through uneven terrain.

It’s a difficult job, but the PTST was up to the task. While the ETC CLT focused on trash along the trails and moved tires to places along the trail that are easier to reach, the PTST skillfully hoisted hundreds of pounds of tires up and out Swan Creek’s infamously steep ravines, then moved them through the narrow trails all the way to the park entrance.SwanCreekEarthDay_TIREd

GCR Tires’ Sustainability Team donated their services to dispose of the recovered tires so that they can be recycled instead of brought to the landfill. In addition to the tires recovered from the ravines, the GCR Team was also able to remove a network of abandoned industrial tires in Swan Creek’s Lister uplands. Some of the tires were so big, their removal required a crane! In the end, GCR Tires was able to help the community cleanup groups responsibly dispose of nearly 8 tons of tires that have been degrading and polluting Swan Creek’s waterways since the 90’s. We know tires emit substances that are especially dangerous for salmon populations, so this was an especially impactful and collaborative cleanup, showing what’s possible when people move together in the spirit of community and collaboration.

Special thanks to the agency partners who came together to support the community groups to make this happen, including the Puyallup Tribe, Tacoma Solid Waste, Pierce County Parks, Pierce Conservation District, and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department multi-agency collaborative Step it Up.