SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


$125,000 Grant & Volunteers Will Put Bite on Gravina Litter


August 10, 2006
Thursday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - For several years Ketchikan Borough Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Cegelske said he's received telephone calls from concerned community members asking if something couldn't be done about the abandoned boats and trash on Gravina Island. Not only is this trash an eyesore but also a hazard to navigation and to the safety of people using the beaches in the area.

Cegelske said frequently people feel that government just isn't doing enough. However, through the efforts of Cegelske and others, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough will now be able to begin addressing cleanup on Gravina Island with the aide of a $125,000 grant from the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Marine Debris Cleanup program.

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Old Chris Craft boat with boat transom in the background
Photograph by Jerry Cegelske

Cegelske said he fortunately learned about NOAA's Marine Debris Cleanup program on December 1, 2005 from Tanya Verbyla from the Ketchikan Indian Community -- just barely in time to meet the deadline. NOAA's program had $2 million available for marine debris cleanup on a nationwide basis and the good news was the program had been extended from October 12, 2005 to December 12, 2005; and this extension provided a chance to develop and submit a proposal.

"With the direction of the Assembly, the assistance of Borough employees, and the help of the NOAA staff, the timeline was met for submission of the grant proposal," said Cegelske.

Cegelske said funding required "strong on-the-ground habitat components involving the removal of marine and derelict fishing gear that will provide educational and social benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological habitat improvements for trust resources." He said "What could spell derelict fishing gear better than the abandoned fishing boats on the shore of Gravina Island?"

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Rusted engine
Photograph by Jerry Cegelske

Cegelske consulted with Robert Sivertsen, Supervisor of the Solid Waste Facility for the City of Ketchikan on what could be done with the recovered trash and debris and if the City could donate the deposition of the material as part of their contribution. "Bob made several valuable suggestions as to handling the trash, and has continued to do so," said Cegelske.

Pictures taken last year of derelict boats, trash and marine debris were submitted along with a plan and a budget and numerous phone calls were made to assure that the application would meet their criteria said Cegelske. Several revisions were made to meet their requirements and directions. Cegelske said the assistance of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau was requested for study and review of the project. In April we were notified that our application was being strongly considered for funding although not at the amount that was asked for.

In June the Borough found out that the cleanup project had been approved for the amount of $125,000.00. "Although $125,000.00 sounds like a lot of money, it isn't considering the amount of trash, derelict boats and sunken boats that need to be removed," said Cegelske. "One of the requirements of the grant is that the community provide a percentage of that amount to match the NOAA funds, which can be in the form of donations such as volunteer labor, vessels, equipment, trash disposal, and other items."

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Old diesel engine base
Photograph by Jerry Cegelske

"Ketchikan has a rare opportunity to take the time and energy needed to clean up a major eyesore in their front yard. How important is this? Enough that we received 1/16th of the annual funds available nationwide for this program in recognition of the trash, litter and debris on the seven miles of shoreline," said Cegelske. "This is money that has come back to the community from the federal taxes you have paid, to be used for our benefit to improve the community."

On July 12, Jim Pomplun and Cegelske walked the seven miles from Clam Cove to almost the Seley mill site, documenting and photographing the litter to help plan for the clean-up. Cegelske said, "It is only by viewing the whole area that you can understand the extent of the trash and the magnitude of the effort needed to clean this area up."

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60 foot wood hull
Photograph by Jerry Cegelske

Cegelske said, "In preparation for the grant application I contacted several businesses in the community and asked for their support in the project and I was not disappointed and indeed grateful for their replies." He said among the volunteers the Boy Scouts have pledged time working on the cleanup as have a number of concerned citizens including a lady who will help survey sunken boats in the area which are a navigation hazard. Service Auto has agreed to take the salvaged lead acid batteries that are collected and Southeast Car Crushers has agreed to take the metal from the boat and what has been strewn about on the shoreline. Diversified Diving Service has volunteered to help survey the sunken boats.

On August 2, 2006 Cegelske said he met with Ketchikan Harbormaster Christopher Brewton who made several valuable suggestions for the clean-up and stated his support for it, as well as the commitment to see if he could help in additional ways.

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Outboard, jigsaw, battery
Photograph by Jerry Cegelske

Cegelske said, "The people working for the City of Ketchikan, and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, are working to make the Gravina Island Clean-up a success but they cannot do everything." He said, "What is needed is for the citizens of the community to work together and indeed to volunteer their time and effort in helping to clean this eyesore. It is only with your active participation that this can be a success."

After the cleanup is accomplished, Cegelske said one of the major challenges will then be to keep it clean. "The opportunity exists for individuals and organizations to adopt sections of the seven miles to keep clean as people adopt a mile of highway."

To be a part of this clean-up effort, contact Ketchikan Gateway Borough Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Cegelske at 228-6621.


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