Kids share thoughts on river litter bugs

May 16, 2019


Students from Soldotna Montessori pick up trash along the Kenai River at Centennial Park. More than 650 students from Kenai, Soldotna and Sterling participated in this year's cleanup, gathering hundreds of pounds of trash.
Credit Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

Now that spring is more or less here, it's time for the annual sprucing up and cleaning rituals. Volunteers across the Peninsula can be found along highways and lakes and rivers, picking up what’s been left under the snow all winter. KDLL’s Shaylon Cochran caught up with a few students from Soldotna who were cleaning up at recently at Centennial Park.



More than 650 elementary students from Sterling, Soldotna and Kenai who spent Thursday and Friday morning picking up hundreds of pounds of trash from campgrounds and other spots along the Kenai river.

This is the sixth year the school district has teamed up with the Kenai River Sportfishing Association and the Kenai River Professional Guides Association. Ray DeBardelaben is with the guides association. He credits his river colleagues, Mark and Cindy Glassmaker for helping get the kids involved.

“They’ve done a lot of prep work to pull this thing off year after year after year. And every year I’m involved in this, it seems like there’s less and less garbage that we find. The first year, it was 8,000-10,000 pounds, the next year it was 6,000 and maybe one day we’ll be down to only four or five hundred pounds a year. (The event) has done a good job.”

KRSA’s new executive director, Ben Mohr, is getting his first look at the annual event which, in the past five years, has collected more than seven tons of trash. He says he’d like to get even more students involved in the years ahead.

“There’s two reasons for it. One is the really clear, obvious one; getting the place cleaned up. The other one is teaching the kids to take care of this place and to make sure the habitat, the river banks and everything is in as good a shape as possible; making sure that we’re teaching the next generation that they need to be treating it as well as or better than we do.”