For annual cleanup days on the lower Kenai Peninsula, bands of Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, church groups and other civic-minded individuals scour the highways, picking up the winter's trash.
Not Duane Harvey, an Anchor Point real estate agent. He's after bigger game.
Detroit muscle cars with blown engines. Beater Subarus that have seen one too many rides down Thrill Hill on the North Fork. Toyota pickups rusted into abstract sculptures. Or, as Harvey calls them, "Alaskan yard ornaments."
Harvey is on a personal mission to clean up the unofficial junk yards scattered around the lower peninsula from Ninilchik to East End Road. He's made a deal with an Anchorage metal scrapper: If he can round up at least 200 junk cars, the metal scrapper said he'd bring a car crushing machine down here.
"I've got 500," Harvey said.
Last week, the car crusher set up down the road from Harvey's business, Trail's End Realty on the Sterling Highway in Anchor Point. Volunteers have been loaning equipment to load and haul junk cars into Anchor Point. When the crusher is done in town, it moves up to Mile 8 on the North Fork Road to an old gravel pit with 200 junk cars.
That lot is typical of the problem with junkers, Harvey said. A empty lot near the Anchor River, people kept dumping junk cars on the land and the owner got stuck with it. Landowners can take up to five junk cars for free to Kenai Peninsula Borough landfills. Harvey's effort is a way for people with large collections to clean up their property.
"We're trying to do this for people who can't afford it," he said. "What we're doing is cleaning up the eyesores of Anchor Point."
Each car has the potential to be a mini Exxon Valdez, leaking fuel, oil, transmission fluid and anti-freeze into the environment. Harvey is especially concerned about junk cars near the Anchor River and other streams.
He's also targeting cars abandoned along roads in rights of way. He's trying to work with the borough and state to get permission to haul away such cars.
"I see these cars in the ditches. It just burns me," he said. "I'm trying to sell property. Nobody wants them. Nobody even knows who owns them."
Harvey said junk cars should be prepared as they would for borough disposal. Among the requirements are removing the battery, draining the oil, draining and removing the fuel tank, draining antifreeze and removing mercury switches. Vehicles should have no garbage and the trunk should be open. Harvey said assistance can be provided for people unable to prepare vehicles for disposal.
For a list of borough requirements, see www.borough.-kenai.ak.us/SolidWaste.
Harvey also asked for donations of equipment use and money to help cover expenses. He said what he really needs is a forklift for two weeks or money to rent one.
As cars are collected, the crusher compresses them into 6-foot-by-6-foot-by-6-foot bales.
They're then loaded on double trucks and eventually taken to a smelter in Seattle.
Harvey said he's ap-proached the borough and state for assistance in removing junk cars, but he keeps getting told, "We'll get back to you in September."
He'd welcome assistance from anywhere he can get it.
"I've got it going," Harvey said. "It's just a matter to keep it up and keep it moving. It's something that needs to be done."
People with junk cars can call Harvey to arrange a time and place to drop them off, or if they just want to help out, call him at (907) 235-8244.
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