The City of Kenai Parks and Recreation department has teamed up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula to save the Kenai Sand Dunes. According to Brenda Ahlberg, Resource development director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula, Project Protect is a volunteer program for teens and pre-teens, "Once a week the kids go to the mouth of the River and work with the City of Kenai Parks and Rec. to clean, maintain and rehabilitate the beaches. The kids learn not only how to maintain and restore the beaches and sand dunes, but also how important that habitat is to all of us. The final stage of the project will be for the students to submit their findings to the city in hopes that the program will become an annual volunteer effort," said Ahlberg.
The work project includes shoveling the sand from the walkway grates and building fences. As part of the study project within the project some areas are being fenced and others are being left open so that a comparison can be made as to determine the effectiveness of fencing along the dunes. The project has been made possible through a federal pass through grant from the Learn and Serve program. The Kenai Project Protect was one of only three proposals in Alaska that received the grant. The grant funds only covered the physical costs of the materials for the program, and the some 22 teens and pre-teens have all volunteered their time and labor for the project, according to Ahlberg. "The kids want it to be fun, and it is, but there has to be an outcome. It is my opinion that when the project comes to closure and they see how much information they have gathered, and how they have collaborated with other organizations within the community that they will realize that not only have they learned something, but that they have contributed something important to their community," added Ahlberg. Teens and pre-teens may still volunteer for the program by calling the Boys & Girls Club in Kenai at 283-2682.
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