Last week a group of Southeast Alaska Conservation Council members, volunteers and U.S. Forest Service members took part in a beach cleanup on the southern portion of Admiralty Island as part of SEACC’s volunteer Wilderness Stewardship Program.
The cleanup crews focussed their efforts on the tide lines and forest fringes of Murder Cove, near Point Gardner, on one of Juneau’s largest neighboring islands, according to a release from SEACC this week. SEACC members said ocean debris, floating in the Gulf of Alaska, is often funneled up southern Chatham Strait into Frederick Sound, and ultimately lands in places like Murder Cove where seemingly isolated beaches become littered with trash. The release stated volunteers spent four days combing more than two miles of beach along Frederick Sound, collecting everything from bottles and cans, to plastic strapping and bags, to fishing gear.
In four days of work, the release stated, the team filled a 24 foot barge to the brim with beach garbage. There were no signs of Japanese tsunami debris.
The crew was composed of one SEACC staff member and six Southeast Alaska volunteers from Juneau, Sitka and Yakutat, whose ages ranged from 16 to 60. Two USFS rangers assisted during the first three days of cleanup, according to the release.
“Coming from Yakutat, I know that here in Southeast Alaska how we live our lives and how we define ourselves is really based on our relationship to our natural surroundings,” Volunteer Jennifer Hanlon said. “It’s made us fishermen and hunters for generations. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to have healthy lands and a healthy relationship with the land.”
The beach cleanup in Murder Cove was only one project in SEACC’s volunteer Wilderness Stewardship Program, the release stated. Earlier this year, SEACC partnered with Wrangell Boy Scout Troop 40 and the USFS on the Stikine River to help manage invasive weeds, maintain the Twin Lakes public use cabin and outhouses, and do minor trail work. That project included nine Wrangell volunteers, five of whom were under the age of 16.
SEACC’s volunteer Wilderness Stewardship Program is in its third year and is supported in part by the National Forest Foundation and Patagonia. The program is an ongoing partnership on the Tongass National Forest between the USFS and SEACC. The program’s intention is to not only provide meaningful service opportunities to Southeast Alaskans, but to also provide opportunities for local residents to connect with the healthy and productive lands that sustain our communities.