Putting the 'sandy' in Sandy Beach

Sitka man removing rocks, cleaning up trash at favorite Douglas spot

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2004

Sandy Beach is sandier, thanks to John Duncan.

The Sitka carpenter has been working in Juneau this summer, and he decided to clear some of the rocks and trash from the city beach near Savikko Park in Douglas.

Duncan said he began in June and has worked at it several days since then. He takes a wheelbarrow down to the beach, loads it with rocks and carts them to the rocky bulkhead next to the parking lot. He takes away any trash he finds, such as glass, big pieces of rusty metal and the soles of shoes.

"It was kind of heavy pushing that wheelbarrow around in the sand," said Duncan, a burly 61.

If a rock is too big to lift, he digs a ditch around it and rolls it into the tipped wheelbarrow.

A nearby resident once brought him a soda. Others asked if he was getting paid and what he did with the rocks.

"You've got several thousand square yards of beach that's been cleaned up," said Richard Lyon, a Juneau resident and friend of Duncan.

Duncan was inspired by the hot, sunny weather and thoughts of sandy Hawaiian beaches. Why shouldn't Juneau enjoy the same?

"It was nice to see not only the little kids but the high school kids running around and not worrying about rocks," he said. "Even the dogs didn't have to worry about glass."

The city doesn't clean the beach, said Kim Kiefer, director of the Parks and Recreation Department. It relies on people cleaning up after themselves and on occasional volunteers, such as the Boy Scouts.

"Thankfully, we have a lot of people helping to take care of our parks areas," she said.

Duncan, looking over the beach on a rainy Thursday afternoon, said he'd like to clean up more of the beach, but maybe with some help.

Actually, help may be on the way. Sept. 18 is International Coastal Cleanup Day, sponsored by the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy. Juneau residents are invited to clean up Sandy Beach from 9 a.m. to noon. The conservancy will supply gloves and bags. The city will place a Dumpster nearby.

"Sandy Beach just seemed like the best location because it's the most accessible and you don't have to hike out to it," said Kristin Kranendonk, who is organizing the cleanup in Juneau.

In 2003, about 450,000 people worldwide picked up 7 1/2 million pounds of debris from beaches, the conservancy said. The most common items were cigarettes, food containers, beverage bottles and bags. The soles of shoes didn't even make the top 10.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.

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