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Exercise for the environment: 'Trash-ercise' hits the Kasilof beach

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The Kasilof River has been open to dip-netting since June 25. Newly expanded facilities and parking area on the north shore of the river mouth means easier access for dip-netters. Easier access means more visitors. And more people can mean more trash left behind.

That’s where the Stream Watch program comes in.

“If you’d like you can grab a bag and help yourself to cleaning up the roads or a little bit of the beach and the parking lot,” said Terese Schomogyi, a summer intern with the Kenai Watershed Forum’s Stream Watch program, which organizes volunteers to do restoration, protection and education programs along sensitive sections of waterways on the Kenai Peninsula.

Volunteer Angel Reams and Terese Schomogyi, a summer intern with the Kenai Watershed Forum’s Stream Watch program, display the most prolific trash picked up at the Kasilof beach Tuesday — cigarette butts. Above, Tait Stevenson, another Stream Watch summer intern, picks up a piece of plastic drifting down the beach during "Trash-ercise Tuesday" this week.
Credit Jenny Neyman/KDLL

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Schomogyi is leading a weekly program at the Kasilof River — “Trash-ercise” Tuesdays.

“It’s essentially picking up litter in your community while also getting a good workout in. So we thought it would be kind of a cool idea to bring Trash-ercise Tuesday into the Stream Watch community,” Schomogyi said. “And since I was kind of the running guru of us all, I decided to spearhead this event. So every Tuesday, starting last week and going until Aug. 14 we’ll be here at the Kasilof beach picking it up.”

Last week, five trash-ercizers picked up 40 pounds of trash in two hours.

“Which is a decent amount. Yeah. It was, I would say, a lot of water bottles and wrappers and cigarette butts. I think what surprised me most was just the amount of cigarette butts everywhere. You’d think by now people would know to throw those out, not throw them on the pavement or in the bushes. But, yeah. That always shocks me,” Schomogyi said.

Wanda Reams has been to both “Trash-ercise” events with her two 13-year-old daughters, Madison and Angel. They live in Kasilof.

“The cleanup in my own neighborhood. So on my off days, we come out and we do this anyway when we go on walks,” Reams said.

Madison has the winner so far of worst trash found.

“I would say the grossest thing we found was a water bottle full of pee. That was pretty gross,” Madison said.

That was last week, yet she was back this Tuesday with her mom and sister, ready to do it again.

“We did this last Tuesday and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed talking with Terese and just hanging out and this week my mom was like, ‘Hey you want to go to this?’ Sure,” Madison said.

The turnout has been less than Schomogyi would like the first two weeks, but she’s happy with the amount of garbage picked up and is hopeful the program will grow.

“It was great, though, just between the handful of volunteers that we had here we still picked up a significant amount of trash and, in my opinion, really beautified this place. Which is really just a lovely place to fish and to hang out and just to enjoy the Kenai Peninsula,” Schomogyi said.

Bags and everything else needed are provided.

“We have gloves and trash bags for everyone to use,” Schomogyi said. “There’s also the optional trash pickers, which are really fun. We also have hand sanitizer, a couple of fishing regulations just to have on hand out to hand out to people if needed. Sunscreen on sunny days, like today, and then, afterwards, we provide snacks.

Neyman: “OK, you’ve got gloves though? OK, gloves off, snack time.”

“Gloves off, hand sanitizer on, time to eat some snacks,” Schomogyi said.

Food wrappers, plastic water bottles and those dreaded cigarette butts made up the bulk of the trash this week. There were a couple oddities, too. Clothing, for instance. What’s the line between temporarily misplaced and trash?

“I’m going to leave it for now. Some girl might be missing her glove,” said Tait Stevenson, a summer Stream Watch intern.

Then there was the biggest find of the day.

Neyman: “So are you guys hauling off the mattress, too?”

“Um, maybe? I mean, ideally, probably,” Schomogyi said.

Anyone interested in participating in “Trash-ercise” Tuesdays can call 260-5449, extension 1205 to sign up, or just come to the Kasilof north beach at 6 p.m. Tuesdays. Meet at the covered information kiosk just past the parking lot.

“These beaches and just all these natural spaces here on the Kenai Peninsula are really beautiful, so if you are coming out, whether you’re picking up trash with us or coming to dip-net or just enjoy the beach, please leave no trace and take your trash with you,” Schomogyi said.

Stream Watch is having an additional Kasilof beach cleanup from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. This one is lattes and litter, with free coffee for anyone participating.

Jenny Neyman has been the general manager of KDLL since 2017. Before that she was a reporter and the Morning Edition host at KDLL.
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