SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Gravina Clean Up
By Jerry Cegelske


August 29, 2007

Work on the Gravina Island Clean Up has continued over the last two months and a lot of trash has been collected.  In July volunteers collected 8020 pounds of trash from the shores in two days!  Most of the material to be picked up has been collected.  We have to remove some bagged trash in the coming weeks and then start on the boats.  You can tell from the pictures is that we had nice weather most of the time.

One big item remaining is the wire rope attached to floats, logs and trees in various areas where timber was stored, or barges anchored.  The wire rope is hazardous as it rusts and leaves sharp strands sticking out that can easily puncture the skin.  Several people can attest to this fact and I am one of them!  There are still tons of wire rope to remove from logs, floats, trees and the beach.  We found a stump with a section of wire rope wrapped around it many years before when it was a tree and had started to grow around the wire rope.  We removed wire rope from several trees that were growing around the rope and were apparently used to anchor barges or log rafts.  Some trees and branches were growing around nylon rope people had tied things to as well.  There are several sections of wire rope that are 2 inches in diameter and difficult to move.  Several large wire rope sections are about 100 feet or more in length.

jpg boat at high tide

A boat at high tide

It has been interesting to see some of the things we observed on Gravina.  I don't know how some of the material ends up on the island but the mattress remains were unusual.  The springs were coming out of the cloth pockets and scattered on the beach.  One volunteer collected a traffic cone or marker, one of the 4 foot types used on Tongass.  It looked fairly new and made me wonder if someone intentionally threw it in the water.  They also took home several other items they collected during the day.  One volunteer found a hard sided case for glasses only to find a pot pipe inside!

There was one section of beach that had a lot of heavy nylon line or hawser which was probably 4 inches in diameter, also tied to a group of trees.  In that one section we probably collected a thousand pounds of large rope, from 4" to < inch rope.

Several weeks before an article about bottled water came out in Sitnews, we were collecting trash on the beach just North of the airport buildings and much of it was plastic soda, juice and water bottles.  They float up into the rocks and grass line and are difficult to find and retrieve.  One of the disturbing things to see was life jackets that were partially hidden in the grass or near the treeline.  We collected batteries, wood stove parts, tin roofing, boat gauges, electronics, sleeping bags, swim suits, coats, baby pacifiers, refrigerators, a cruet, plates, toilets, boom chains and just about anything else you can think of.

All the volunteers stated that they thought it was a rewarding experience.  In working in some of the areas you could get a sense of what the logging industry was like by looking at the stumps that are lying on the beach.  Some of them had cuts taken out of them before it was decided they were too large to work with.  Several sections of tree were about 8 feet in diameter or greater with saw cuts in them.  It made you wonder how old they were and how they got them cut down.  If someone wants to establish a tourist business relating to logging, Gravina is the place to start! 

jpg boat at high tide

Another boat at high tide.

One day when we had finished picking up trash and were going to look at the remaining section to be cleaned up, we observed a boat on the beach with teenagers swimming and playing around.  We got to it the next day and found it to be a very nice beach, and that they had left trash for us to pick up. The beach covers 180 degrees North to South, is over 150 yards long, and is well protected on a low tide.  We cleaned the mattress springs and other trash from the area so it should be fit to use.  There is a greater area of gravel to use than at Buggy or Rotary Beach.

One down note is that some of the areas were starting to get cluttered with new debris after we had cleaned them, but it will take a long time to equal the debris that we have removed.   We intend to go over the beach once again in the Spring to see what has been missed in the vegetation and recently floated in.  Hopefully people will dispose of their trash in a responsible manner and we won't find much.

Jerry Cegelske
KGB Code Enforcement Officer
Ketchikan, AK


A stump with wire rope around it.


A nice beach on Gravina Island

This is the remains of a mattress, the coil springs were scattered around the area.


A small part of the tire collection

Received August 28, 2007 - Published August 29, 2007


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska