When Christian Knight wanted to teach his children to kayak in 2014 he took them to Eagle Falls, beautiful cascades of rock and blue water on the South Fork of the Skykomish River.
“They had a blast, jumping off cliffs, swimming,” he said.
Knight, meanwhile, couldn’t stop looking at the graffiti and garbage left at one of the most popular U.S. Forest Service areas along state Route 2.
“My wife found a trash bag and started picking up litter,” he recalled.
Since then the spray paint and broken bottles have gotten worse.
“It’s unbelievable, and in the past year it’s amplified at an exponential rate,” he said.
Rock walls and boulders are covered in names, messages and art that can’t be politely discussed.
“Now it’s like the LA River,” he said, referring to the concrete encased river that flows through Los Angeles.
That’s why, along with the Forest Service, he’s organizing a graffiti removal and cleanup event on August 5.
Eagle Falls is located 2.1 miles west of Baring.
The dramatic increase in graffiti is also occurring at other locations in the Skykomish Valley, Knight said. He thinks graffiti begets graffiti and the more common it is the more of a social norm it becomes.
“The problem is the culture established by the graffiti,” he said.
To combat that he’ll be asking other users of the falls, whether they are involved with the clean-up or not, to take and post pictures to social media.
“We’re not hoping to change the culture overnight but we’re hoping to start the change,” Knight said.
A respectful visitor to Eagle Falls and other natural areas leave no trace of their visit, he said.
“The ones that don’t care leave a big trace,” he said.
Eagle Falls Graffiti Scrub
When: 1 p.m. Aug. 5.
Where: Eagle Falls, state Route 2, near mile post 39.
Information: 206-412-7211, bit.ly/eaglefalls