Redoubt Elementary took home the “Most Trash Collected” award after collecting 1,540 pounds of trash during the fourth annual Kenai River Spring Cleanup last Thursday and Friday, helping to push the overall total amount of trash collected to 3,055 pounds.
This year, over 650 students from 27 different classrooms across the district participated in the cleanup.
“We had some new classes, which is great to see. It’s quite the undertaking … but the event is very simple — coming out to the river and picking up trash that doesn’t belong there. When you get the kids out there it really comes naturally,” said event coordinator Keith Baxter, a volunteer with the Kenai River Professional Guide Association.
Participating schools included Kalifornsky Beach Elementary, Redoubt Elementary, Kaleidoscope Elementary, Soldotna Elementary, Sterling Elementary, Connections Home School and Cook Inlet Academy.
The seven schools visited nine different cleanup locations over the course of two days, including Soldotna Visitor Center, Centennial Park, Swiftwater Park, Soldotna Creek Park, Kenai River Center, Rotary Park, Izaak Walton Campground, Bing’s Landing Campground and Moose Range Meadows.
With the addition of this year’s total of over 3,000 pounds of collected trash, the Kenai River Spring Cleanup has cleaned up over 10,000 pounds of trash.
“Some people ask ‘Oh my god, is there really that much trash?’ It might seem more dire than it is by looking at the amount by weight. … The reason we’ve had such high totals is because of the trash being collected there are some large items being found. It’s amazing how powerful the river is, over the years pieces of docks or steps might wash up and be collected during the event,” Baxter said.
The trash, though, is mostly made up of monofiliment fishing line and tackle left behind in the river.
“The big pieces are important, but the small pieces like cigarette butts and monofilament are more important because they’ll hide under the rocks of the riverbed. … The kids keep me busy by finding the hooks and asking me to come grab them,” Baxter said.
For collecting the most trash this year, each student from Redoubt Elementary who participated in the event will receive a fishing pole, Baxter said. Other participants will receive prizes through a raffle over the next few days, including gift certicates to The Moose is Loose Bakery in Soldotna and two halibut charters with Kenai Riverbend Resort.
“There are too many prizes to list, a good chunk of the kids from each of the classes will be recognized,” Baxter said.
After another successful year, all signs point to the cleanup continuing into it’s fifth year next year.
“I think that it has become kind of a staple that a lot of these classes and schools look forward to and I think the community appreciates what it is that they are doing. I think it’s a great example of kids role modeling for adults,” Baxter said.
Reach Kat Sorensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.