Volunteers picked up between three and five tons of trash and recyclables from alongside the Chilkat River and channels during the Takshanuk Watershed Council’s annual cleanup event May 4.
Brad Ryan, the group’s executive director, said items included discarded large appliances, ranges and refrigerators, and a porcelain toilet containing feces.
At 7 Mile Haines Highway, crews found “bags and bags of half burned diapers. We couldn’t get them all. You had to shovel them out.” Household goods, including beds and dressers, were found at 16 Mile, where Ryan also found a duffle bag containing more than a dozen small carburetors.
The riverside is being deliberately used as a dump, Ryan said. “People are definitely taking their trash out there and dumping it. Areas that are road-accessible. That’s the issue.”
Ryan said types of trash found are typical of riverside cleanups in previous years.
Soft, muddy conditions kept volunteers from a quarter-mile, riverside access road at 13 Mile that in the past also has been used as a dumping site.
Ryan said his crews didn’t travel up to 25 Mile, a riverside area in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve where junked vehicles, furniture and other large items have been dumped in the past.
Members of the Haines School fifth grade class participated, Ryan said.
The watershed council, including Venturer Scouts and Scout parents, cleaned up marine beaches May 12.
Beaches included a cove just south of Battery Point, south-facing beaches of Sullivan Island and beaches on the Chilkat Islands. Crews collected about five to 15 bags of trash per beach, with items including plastic bottles, buoys,
rope and similar flotsam.
Because the effort occurred before vegetation sprung back, crews were able to find aging debris, Ryan said. Alaska
Excursions provided a boat and skipper to ferry Scouts, who earned $12 an hour for their labor.
The beach cleanup, which also was held last fall, was funded by an appropriation of about $50,000 secured by former state Rep. Bill Thomas. As all expenses aren’t yet in, it’s too early to say whether remaining Thomas funds will be sufficient to pay for another cleanup, Ryan said.