July 21, 2010
Photograph courtesy City of Saxman
The strangest piece of trash collected was a small, plastic rotisserie chicken toy.
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation employee Bob Fultz, who participated in the clean-up, reflected: "It was fun to be a part of the first wave of local volunteers that took part in cleaning debris from the beach in front of city hall in Saxman this past Saturday. I hope this is the beginning of a regular service locals and others in the area can embrace to make a difference. Saxman is an incredibly beautiful town and to see it "trash free" is a site to behold. Kudos to Jason Custer who organized this event and hopefully many more."
The clean-up was organized with the support of grant funding from the Alaska Center for Coastal Studies and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) community-based marine debris clean-up and prevention program.
During the clean-up, Saxman elders and community members stopped by to check on progress, and share their ideas for better use of Saxman's beaches. "Everyone who spoke to me said that they wanted to see Saxman's tidelands become a clean, safe place for subsistence and recreation," said Jason Custer, the City of Saxman's grant coordinator. "Many of the people I spoke to told me they wished there was a harbor or boat launch in the area, so that Saxman's people could have increased marine access and safe moorage."
Photo by Margaret Custer.
The transition from private dumpsite to healthy, accessible public beach won't be an easy one. Said Custer: "This is just the beginning of a larger effort to make Saxman's beaches a healthy, safe place that the entire community can enjoy. We'll be putting forth more effort into cleaning-up the area through the coming weeks."
Illegal dumping and marine debris have a negative impact upon the health of the community and environment. Discarded chemicals, automotive fluids, and rusted metal pose safety risks to community members -- especially children. Coastal dumpsites can result in death or injury to wildlife, and can make subsistence foods unsafe for human consumption. Dumpsites have a negative impact upon property value, and can attract other illegal activities. "Dumpsites send a message that anything goes, and that no one cares," said Custer. "That is not true in Saxman."
The City of Saxman urges residents
to report illegal dumping to the Alaska State Troopers, and/or
Saxman City Hall. Community members are encouraged by the City
of Saxman to write down license plate numbers, and take cell
phone pictures of illegal dumpers.
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