A portion of the volunteers that helped clean up the beaches: Steve Lewis (from back left), Nick Olmsted, Molly Kemp, Carlene Allred, Becky Olmsted, Art Bloom, Tom Heath. Kevin Allred is in the middle and Mark Meyer is in the front. This photo was taken at the collection site located east of Tenakee Springs on the north shore of Tenakee Inlet, near the old logging road.
Art Bloom, Mark Meyer, Tom Heath and Flint Allred load Larry Schultz's landing craft, piled full of collected debris. The marine debris was collected from "Our" Cove, located east of Tenakee Springs on the north shore of Tenakee Inlet.
Story last updated at 7/3/2013 - 2:54 pm
It seems that modern life - at least modern life in big cities - seldom puts us in situations where we feel proud of our neighbors, but a recent project in Tenakee Springs brought out some of the very best about life in these parts. Almost a year ago a couple of our residents became aware that grant money was available through NOAA to help clean up marine debris that had been accumulating for years along our shoreline. As was to be expected when dealing with the Feds, it took nearly a year to fill out the forms, jump through the hoops, and then get other agencies like our own Department of Transportation and the Marine Highway System lined up and on board. It wasn't exactly like herding cats but close.
It all came together in March when community residents began the actual volunteer grunt work of walking the beaches on the hunt for the cast-off, thrown out, dropped overboard and just plain abandoned junk that had washed up and lodged itself amid the rocks and tall grasses of our "home inlet." They began with the intention of gathering up the obvious eyesores that we all knew about; the big winch on the beach near Corner Bay, the rotten float house in Kadashan Bay just across from town and the snarls of logging cable nearly everywhere you looked. When the actual work began, though, the volume of junk lying about startled everyone. Before they were done, my neighbors, the same folks I pass on the trail every day, had pulled out a small mountain of soggy fiberglass insulation and crumbling Styrofoam and they filled several hundred bags with bottles, cans, fishing floats, and coolers. Many hands pried enormous logging equipment tires discarded decades ago out of underbrush and rolled them down to the water's edge. Piles of junk were staged at different places along the beach where residents with landing craft-type boats then loaded it all up and hauled it to a collection site just east of town.
Channel Construction in Juneau, often a friend of the community, then gave us a very substantial discount on the cost to swing in with their big equipment, pick it all up and deliver it to the landfill in Juneau. Munson Boats, the makers of most of the high-speed landing crafts used on the job, made a substantial cash contribution and ALPAR - Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling - provided the hundreds of heavy plastic bags needed. The initial grant came through the NOAA Restoration Center. The Tenakee Volunteer Fire Department helped, as did the Tenakee Search and Rescue Team. Chichagof Conservation Council participated and a follow-up program in the Tenakee School is in the works.
Altogether, Tenakee residents volunteered over 800 hours scouring some 35 miles of beach on both sides of Tenakee Inlet and collected over 8,500 cubic feet of trash that weighed almost 3.5 tons.
When you think of the coordinated effort of all those involved, the governmental types we often complain about, but who provided the serious money, the ones in distant offices who moved paperwork along, the generosity of those who chipped in smaller amounts and the sore backs of the ones who did the heavy lifting, why, it's enough to make a guy proud.