Harbor Cleanup Day sees support from local children

Bags of trash removed from harbor

Tyler Calfina, 7, walks along the sidewalk while picking up trash next to the harbor during Harbor Cleanup Day on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

Glass bottles, tarps, plastic buoys, paper and other trash littering Cordova’s harbor are gone, thanks to groups of volunteers who turned out on Saturday, April 14 for Harbor Cleanup Day.

Together they tackled the soggy trash tucked in the rocky shores of the breakwater, underneath the ramps on the muddy harbor floor and intertwined in the bushes that border the sidewalk, bagged and disposed of it all.

The event was hosted by Cordova District Fisherman United and Native Village of Eyak.

“It doesn’t just mean cleaning up trash,” Jocelyn Layte of CDFU said. “It’s preserving and continuing a care for their environment and their resources that they may use in the future.”

CDFU donated gloves for the volunteers and the Cordova Chamber of Commerce donated the garbage bags.

Sara Parker led a group of excited kids armed with trash bags along the harbor.

“You really get into it, there’s like 50!” Andrew Bellefeuille, 9, said as he collected trash from the spaces between the rocks.

“I don’t think it’s careless litter,” Parker said, making note of the winter storms that caused powerful winds. “I think most of the guys that live here … try to be mindful of it.”

Boys from Cub Scout Troop 624 walked along the breakwater, filling their garbage bags and wheelbarrows with foam floats, torn buoys and trash.

“I think the kids kind of approach it like an Easter egg hunt,” den leader Robert Skorkowsky said. “They kind of race to find some of the stuff.”

The scouts, who have volunteered their time for many years, also help out during the fall cleanup, another event Layte hopes will happen again this year.

Along with wildlife and the harbor itself, the cleanup day benefits scouts working on their community service goals.

Michael Harris showed off his community service belt loop, adorned with pins, that stood out from his navy uniform, highlighting his service accomplishments.

An otter floated in the harbor, basking in the warm sun for most of the morning as the boys bagged trash.

They all stopped to look at a seal swimming nearby and discussed how humans are impacting the land.

“I think (the wildlife) will think it’s like food and they’ll eat it, but it’s trash and they might die,” RJ Quemado said.

The group eventually made their way back to the Fisherman’s Memorial, dropping off the stuffed bright yellow bags and wheelbarrows.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.