Nonprofit Begins Two Year Marine Debris Cleanup

Marine debris. (Photo by John Vonderlin / Flickr)

This month, a local nonprofit begins a two year beach clean-up along the road system.

Island Trails Network executive director Andy Schroeder says this effort will match the constant stream of marine debris that washes up on Kodiak shores.

And this one will be on a regular basis.

Schroeder says that’s in large part because this project will include more easily accessible beaches than others ITN has done.

“On the road system we can use smaller groups, pickup trucks, we can have an everyday kind of logistical set up with a pickup truck, maybe a trailer. But some of the places where marine debris really accumulates and does the most damage is so far removed that, when you go there, it doesn’t make sense to come back until you’re done.”

Those beaches are often on some of the Kodiak Archipelago’s more remote islands. In the past, ITN has held kayak expeditions to reach those.

The nonprofit relies on volunteers.

Schroeder says it’ll be the same case for this road system clean-up.

“We initially had identified some project partners – school groups and so forth that have had funding cuts, budget cuts, and programs that that have ended. The Bridge America project was gonna be one group we partnered with, and they’re not gonna be around this year.”

He says they’ll find some go-to groups they can rely on and also rally individual volunteers.

Volunteer base aside, Schroeder says disposal is the hardest part. They need to figure out what to do with the marine debris once it’s in their storage facility. He says all options are on the table.

He says the debris might go to ITN’s landfill partners or possibly to artists who turn marine debris into sculpture.

“I have concerns and I have ethical standards for what we do with the stuff, but priority one is to get it out of the marine environment.”

Schroeder says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will provide a grant of $71,000 dollars and ITN will match that with about $80,000 dollars from non-federal funding sources. He says the project launched at the beginning of the month, and it’ll continue through all seasons over the next two years.

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