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Community support key to Kenai River Spring Cleanup

Posted: June 18, 2014 - 4:48pm  |  Updated: June 19, 2014 - 8:25am

Because of our many generous sponsors, the first annual Kenai River Spring Cleanup brought in just under 2,500 pounds of trash from the riparian habitat of the Kenai River, far exceeding expectations. Bus transportation for classes participating in the Kenai River Professional Guide Associations’ Kids’ River Cleanup Day was sponsored by Batir Construction, and the Cleanup Barbecue was made possible by Stanley Chrysler.

Other event and prize-drawing sponsors included: Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, Alaska Sea Life Center, Alaska Tourism Marketing Council, Alaska West Air, Aspen Hotel, Batir Constructions, Bubb’s Pizza, CBC Rental,Charlotte’s, Homer Electric Association, Inc., Hutchings Auto Group, Jump’n Junction, Kenai River Brewery, Kenai River Sportsfishing Association, Ken’s Alaska Tackle, Key-O’s Guide Service, Magpie’s Pizza, Moose River Dental, Moose River BBQ, Odie’s Deli, O’Reily Auto Parts, Pizza Boys, River & Sea Marine, Soldotna Trustworthy, Spenard Builder Supply, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Stanley Ford & Chrysler, Sterling Brotherhood, Sweeney’s, and Wilderness Way.

Community organizations that participated included: ReGroup, Halo Bay Bear Camp, Stream Watch, Trout Unlimited Kenai Peninsula Chapter, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, Alaska State Parks, Kenai Peninsula Safe Kids (Jane Fellman) and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The City of Soldotna Parks & Recreation Department also went above and beyond in their support of this event by allowing us to host the Community Barbecue and Trash Weigh-In at Soldotna Creek Park, and by handling all event logistics and trash transportation.

Equally as encouraging was the number of organizations and individuals willing to donate their time to make the river cleanup effort successful.

While many people were involved in making the event come together, nobody stepped forward with more hours of staff time and provision of resources than the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

By all accounts, this year’s Kenai River Spring Cleanup was a huge success, and we look forward to even more participation in subsequent years as we continue working to instill a strong, personal sense of river stewardship in future generations (and remove a bit of river trash in the process).

So where did the idea of a community-wide Kenai River Spring Cleanup come from?

For years the Kenai River Professional Guide Association (KRPGA) has enjoyed hosting “Take A Kid Fishing Day” early each May. Volunteering for this event was something our guides always looked forward too, so there was some disappointment when the preseason closure for early run king fishing on the Kenai River was announced in February.

After the announcement, we began brainstorming ways KRPGA could continue helping area youth connect with the Kenai River in spite of low returns of early-run chinook. It wasn’t long before the idea to host a Kids’ River Cleanup Day floated to the top.

As anyone who has picked up a rod and reel knows, going fishing is as much about getting outside and enjoying the river as it is about catching fish. A Kids’ River Cleanup Day allows that same kind of up-close-and-personal experience, while also providing a unique educational opportunity.

We brought our Kids’ River Cleanup Day idea with us to a Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) Advisory Board Meeting, where the City of Soldotna expressed an interest in partnering with us to grow the event to include the broader community as well. The rest, as they say, is history.

We couldn’t have been more pleased with the way things turned out. Thanks again to all involved, especially to the kids and community volunteers who removed a whopping 2,494 pounds of trash from the world-renown Kenai River.

Mark Glassmaker

KRPGA Volunteer and Event Chair

Keith Baxter

Soldotna City Council Member and Event Co-Chair

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