PEYA winner Marit Hartvigson shines in Washington D.C.

Posted: Tuesday, April 25, 2006


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  Marit Hartvigson, family, CFK sponsors & local officials traveled to D.C. and met with EPA Administrator Stephan Johnson and President George W. Bush

SoHi Junior Marit Hartvigson greets President Bush as EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson brief D.C. press corps during PEYA presentation in Washington

SoHi Junior Marit Hartvigson returned to school after spending a week in Washington D.C. with her family, Chevron and Agrium officials, and Kenai Borough Mayor John Williams and his wife Sharon. Hartvigson, the 2004 Caring For The Kenai winner for her proposed Slikok Creek grate walk, completed the project in 2005, and was selected this spring by the Environmental Protection Agency to receive the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) from region 10. At a White House presentation last week, Hartvigson met with President George W. Bush and EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson. She was accompanied by her parents, Caring For The Kenai sponsors, Roxanne Sinz of Chevron, Lisa Parker from Agrium, and Borough Mayor John Williams and his wife Sharon.

The Slikok Creek Stream Keepers Grate Walk was developed by Marit when she was a sophomore at SoHi. She raised the funds and organized the labor to build a grated walk that provides access to the Slikok Creek in Soldotna and prevents bank erosion caused when students collect water samples.


Marit Hartvigson, family, CFK sponsors & local officials traveled to D.C. and met with EPA Administrator Stephan Johnson and President George W. Bush

In the 6th grade, she participated in an Adopt-a-Stream program and learned how to monitor the creek. She noticed that the Stream Keepers were eroding the banks and bruising vegetation when they collected water samples. She wanted to develop a solution back then, but was not ready for the responsibility of a large project. Marit also was inspired by her brother who won the Caring For The Kenai contest that year. Once in high school, however, Marit gained the confidence to design and manage the project. In 2004, Marit won the Caring For the Kenai contest for the design of her project to build a grate walk. With the help of several government agencies along with Mike’s Welding, and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Marit engineered, applied for a permit, funded, and coordinated a volunteer effort to construct a platform for access to the creek. She raised more than $14,000 to build the project.

Her original project was to replace the existing boardwalk along the bank of the creek with an elevated 16-foot by 15-foot aluminum walk built of grating that would allow light to penetrate. Grate walks used in other parts of the Kenai River watershed have rescued banks that were in poor condition. Attached to the platform would be two sets of stairs with handrails leading into the water. The stairs would be removable from the water to avoid winter freezing and serious damage, and also hinged so that they could be lowered and lifted easily. Farther downstream, a 4-foot by 5-foot platform with a set of stairs for additional accessibility and testing would be built.

When the landowner was not willing to renew the land use agreement, Marit had to identify a new location to build the Stream Keepers grate walk platform. The new location, downstream on state parks land, required that she modify the original design to fit the dimensions of the new site. These changes included building a grate walk to connect the platforms, eliminating one set of stairs from the large platform, and adding handrails around the entire structure. Marit’s efforts to find a new location saved the Adopt-A-Stream program from being terminated, and it is now available for future generations of Stream Keepers on Slikok Creek. She and others in the community have already seen signs that the bank is mending and the students are happy that their program was not terminated.

Young people from around the country are invited annually to participate in the PEYA program which is aimed at encouraging students to promote environmental awareness and positive community involvement.

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