Ecology Youth Corps cancels 2020 summer litter crews for teens

OLYMPIA — The state Department of Ecology announced Monday it has canceled its 2020 Ecology Youth Corps as the number of coronavirus cases in Washington continues to rise.

Each summer, the Ecology Youth Corps hires teens and young adults in Washington to pick up litter on state roads and highways. Last year, teens chosen for the Ecology Youth Corps earned $12 per hour and worked up to 32 hours per week.

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Officials said the closure of Washington’s K-12 schools is impacting the ability of applicants to submit needed materials, including required references. Additional statewide restrictions have also impacted scheduling and hiring process.

“Our primary responsibility is the safety of our crew members,” said Ecology’s Solid Waste Management program manager Laurie Davies. “This decision was made out of an abundance of caution and only after much consideration of our current situation.

”Without the help of teens, officials said much of the roadside litter responsibilities will shift the department’s adult litter crews.

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“Adult crews are using social distancing tactics recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce their chance of exposure to the virus,” a spokesperson for the department wrote in a news release.

Officials said last year, Ecology Youth Corps summer crews cleaned almost 5,000 miles of road and picked up 1,213,250 pounds of litter.