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KODIAK: YCC Spurs New Hope Through Cleanup of Refuse, Buoys and Rope
Alaska Region, September 18, 2012
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Map of Kodiak Island detailing location of Halibut Bay and the city of Kodiak.
Map of Kodiak Island detailing location of Halibut Bay and the city of Kodiak. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Kodiak High School Senior and YCC crew member Iris Blakeslee with a fun find on the beach of Halibut Bay.
Kodiak High School Senior and YCC crew member Iris Blakeslee with a fun find on the beach of Halibut Bay. - Photo Credit: USFWS Liz Allard
The Kodiak Refuge YCC works as a team to remove an entangled net from the beach.
The Kodiak Refuge YCC works as a team to remove an entangled net from the beach. - Photo Credit: USFWS Liz Allard
Kodiak High School Sophomore and YCC crewmember Shane Davis hauls a net down the beach during the clean up.
Kodiak High School Sophomore and YCC crewmember Shane Davis hauls a net down the beach during the clean up. - Photo Credit: USFWS Liz Allard
The Kodiak YCC crew at one of the marine debris collection staging areas.
The Kodiak YCC crew at one of the marine debris collection staging areas. - Photo Credit: USFWS Shelly Lawson

By Student Intern and YCC crew leader, Liz Allard.

 

“My favorite memory [from Halibut Bay] was building a fire and having a bond with the people I work with and the people I met.” –Shane Davis, 15

Waves crash along five miles of remote beach, while the sunset displays fiery hues across the sky and jagged mountains from the Katmai coastline cast silhouettes into the backdrop. A group of vibrant characters, situated around a fire, rest atop sand-stained pieces of driftwood as they animatedly recount events from the day.

Amongst this group are the four teenage members of the Kodiak National Widlife Refuge’s Youth Conservation Corps. During the 2012 summer season, the YCC spent a week on the southwest end of Kodiak Island at Halibut Bay, cleaning up marine debris in collaboration with the local non-profit, Island Trails Network. While at Halibut Bay, YCC combed the beach and collected trash, including buoys, five gallon buckets, nets, rope, smaller plastic, styrofoam and the occasional treasure.

Prior to the trip, YCC delivered an environmental education program about marine debris to local Kodiak youth while leading a hike for the Kodiak Area Native Association’s Explore the Rock program. This program prefaced the trip as a way of educating both local youth and the YCC crew about marine debris and ways to counteract it.

“Marine debris. It’s just bad…bad for the environment. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, so you [have] to clean it up.” –Lachlan Kirven, 17

This being the second year of marine debris cleanup at Halibut Bay, YCC assisted in the final week of cleanup for the entire project. They consolidated the debris into cubic meter bags known as super sacks in preparation for pickup later this fall.

The work at Halibut Bay was strenuous, tedious and at some points daunting, but the YCC crew worked with an elevated level of tenacity and motivation. Complaints were nonexistent, while words of encouragement and hope were passed amongst the group. The crew worked diligently to disentangle netting from stacks of driftwood and transport debris to larger piles, while navigating obstacles and overcoming the elements. Due to their elevated level of determination, the YCC crew had to be forced by crew leaders to stop work and take a lunch break each day!

“One of my favorite moments from Halibut Bay was the feeling after you clean a bunch of marine debris and you see the huge stack and you see how clean the beach is…and you feel like you made a difference.” –Anelise Zimmer, 18

At the end of a long week, YCC contributed to the estimated 15,000 pounds of debris collected over the past two years, with a total of 55 super sacks and additional buoys, buckets and nets strung together amongst the piles. Although marine debris will continue to wash up on the shores of Halibut Bay, the YCC crew recognizes the difference they made, as well as the necessity to share what they learned with others in their community as a means of generating a greater constituency of stewards for marine and coastal environments.

“I am definitely going to be more aware of packaging and how things are disposed of…and let people know that I just spent a week cleaning up a beach full of trash and that it’s not something we want our beaches to look like.” –Iris Blakes


Kodiak High School Senior Iris Blakeslee created this video about marine debris for her final Youth Conservation Corp project.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSiVO3teF9M
Contact Info: Michelle Lawson, 907-487-0283, Michelle_Lawson@fws.gov



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