South Tongass Cleanup
By Jerry Cegelske
November 27, 2007
In April of 2003, I took a ride with Richard Burton who gave
me what was known to others in the Borough as "The Burton
Tour". This was not a tour for tourists, although some may
have been interested in it. We started one morning at the end
of North Tongass at Settler's Cove. Sadly to say, we didn't
get very far before Dick told me to pull over and check out trash
that had been dumped at one of the pull outs. It was inspected
and marked on the map. Sometimes we only traveled a block or
so before we stopped again to view more trash that had been dumped.
It was amazing how much trash had been dumped along the road.
Pull outs, Whipple Creek, Mud Bight, and other areas were littered.
We stopped for lunch and then continued the "tour"
south of town. That is where we found the really large dump
At 8.5 Mile S. Tongass past Whitman Creek, I climbed down the
bank and checked the vehicles that had been dumped there, a hundred
yards later was another dump site.
At mile 10.75 S. Tongass, I used a rope tied to a guardrail to
safely go down to the largest dump site of them all. I counted
at least 12 vehicles that I could identify, along with appliances,
furniture, barrels and hundreds of other items dumped along the
shoreline of George Inlet.
In 2004, volunteers helped to clean up Mud Bight, Whipple Creek
and Whipple Spur, Knudson Cove, and other areas. In 2005 volunteers
cleaned up Revilla Road from Ward Cove to Lake Harriett Hunt.
In 2006 and 2007 volunteers, mostly from Ketchikan Youth Court
worked cleaning up many of the areas on North Tongass. Sadly,
many of them were littered and trashed again shortly after they
were cleaned up.
In 2006, after trying to find a source of funding for a clean
up of the South Tongass areas, a grant was obtained in June from
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as part of their Alaska Coastal
Program. This provided $35,000 for the removal of debris from
the Whitman Creek and South Tongass near shore areas to conserve
coastal ecosystems for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.
Due to the awarding of the grant relatively late in the year
and the need to offer the dangerous and difficult removal of
vehicles and large items on a competitive bid, nothing was done
on the project last year. Work started on the project in April
with both volunteers and contracted work.
It is only when a project of this scope is started that you become
aware of all the obstacles that come up. On paper it looks easy
and straightforward, in practice it becomes very difficult.
The road work south of town became a challenge to deal with as
the contractor could only come out even on the project if he
could keep his people and equipment working, not stuck in construction
traffic in the numerous delays. Who knows how long ago some
of the vehicles had been dumped there, but many were there long
enough to severely deteriorate. When the contractor pulled them
up, they came apart in several pieces, thus tripling or quadrupling
the work load. Some days when the weather was great to work
in, it was also great weather for road construction, but bad
for moving junk vehicles and appliances to be processed or recycled.
As a result of the road construction and other delays, the material
was collected and stacked along South Tongass when the weather
was good. To the chagrin of tour operators and guides, additional
delays prevented its removal. Finally after many miscues, the
material was removed in October and is on its way to be recycled.
I would like to thank the volunteers that helped with the clean
up, especially members of the crew of the Acushnet who worked
to clean up an especially dirty area near the large waterfall
South of town. If it belonged in the landfill, it was dumped
"Thanks" is also due to the Ketchikan business community
members who helped, as without their willingness to take on a
project of this type, and exercise their imagination in designing
tools to do the job, the trash would still be there. They assisted
in the removal and disposal of materials and ensured that it
will be removed from the island and recycled for future use.
About: Jerry Cegelske is the Borough Code Enforcement Officer
and Project Officer
An old truck at Mile
10.75 S. Tongass
A collection of dumped
Accumulated trash dumped
at Mile 10.75
Old truck and freezer
Old car dumped at Mile
8.5 S. Tongass
Old cars removed from
the George Inlet Shoreline
More old cars
Part way through the
clean up at Mile 10.75, note the slope of the rocks.
Some of the trash removed
from Mile 10.75
Junk BMW motorcycle
Pile of junk vehicle
removed from the George Inlet shoreline
Wade Purdy of Purdy's
Towing removing an old junker that has broken into pieces
Received November 26, 2007
- Published November 27, 2007
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