The rows of fishing poles will be absent from at the spring “Take a Kid Fishing” day.
In its place will be the first “Kenai River Clean-Up Day.” Hundreds of students will be scrambling across the river’s banks to collect pieces of exposed trash, May 16, on the Kenai River.
With the closure of fishing for king salmon on the Kenai River, Mark Glassmaker, owner of Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, wanted to make sure local students could still spend a day on the water.
“It is non-consumptive,” Glassmaker said. “It is something we can give back to the river, even though it will only put a dent in many miles of river.”
Week long cleanup efforts will take place across the com Soldotna, Kenai and Nikiski culminating in day long celebrations involvement in restoring green spaces.
Glassmaker will be organizing a team to take more than 200 kids from Redoubt Elementary, Soldotna Montessori, Sterling Elementary and Connections Home-school Program down to areas in Swiftwater Park, Centennial Park and the Izaak Walton State Recreation Site to search for accumulated garbage.
The event is just one piece of the week long “Kenai River Spring Cleanup!” Soldotna Mayor Nels Anderson signed a proclamation designating the week of May 11-17 a community-wide effort to clear up litter lining the shore of the Kenai River.
Soldotna Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael’s advocacy spawned the effort for a week long cleanup. He said Anderson’s endorsement illustrates the relevancy and immediacy of dedicating time to clean up the river.
Soldotna City Council member Keith Baxter said almost everyone in the community is dependent on the river.
Participants can pick up garbage bags and river trash “bag tags,” which will indicate a bag is eligible for competition, at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center any time before or during the week and start their own collections, Baxter said.
A celebration of the week’s activities will take place on May 17 at Soldotna Creek Park, Baxter said.
Prizes will be given to the teams and individuals who manage to compile the biggest hoards, to be determined at an official weigh-in.
Donations for prizes came from more than 35 local businesses and organizations, Glassmaker said. Glassmaker’s company, and Alaska West Air will be donating a private fishing tour.
Litter, cans, bottles, tires, fishing line, plastic and scrap lumber are the some of the items considered to be trash by the Alaska State Parks, who provided cleanup tips for the event.
Cleanup efforts in Nikiski now involve three generations of family members, said Audrey Johnson, member of the Nikiski Community Council.
For more than three decades, Johnson has witnessed and help organize beautification projects every May in the community.
Last year 223 people turned out for the city’s annual cleanup day.
“One yellow bag contains between 20 to 25 pounds of garbage,” Johnson said.
In years past the retrieved garbage has totaled up to 26,000 pounds, Johnson said.
Nikiski’s day long cleanup and subsequent barbecue will start at 10 a.m., May 17, outside the Nikiski Recreation Center and the Nikiski Pool on Poolside Avenue.
Trash bags for the can be picked up at the Nikiski Post Office before May 13, or throughout the official cleanup day. When filled, trash bags can be left on the side of the road for pickup.
A community-wide effort is necessary to really take care of all the built-up trash from the winter season said City of Kenai Parks and Recreation Department Director Bob Frates. The pile-up is the intentional and unintentional result of improperly disposing of waste, he said.
This year the City of Kenai is collaborating with the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and the Kenai Visitors Center to make bags and pickups easily accessible for community members who join in the effort, Frates said.
Between May 12 and 18, yellow trash bags can be picked up at the visitors center, and once filled, left on the side of the road, where they will be picked up by the city, Frates said.
On, May 17 the Kenai Lions Club will be hosting a barbecue between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. where children who took part in the cleanup can enter to win a bicycle.
“It’s too much trash for anyone person or group to clean up,” Frates said.
For those who don’t know where to start he recommends searching any park or green strip in the city.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.