A classic photo of Alaskan coastline from the summer of 2008 by Scott Dickerson

One of my favorite things about Alaska is the endless miles of uninhabited and mostly undisturbed coastline. With nearly 34,000 miles (54,720 km) of tidal shoreline, Alaska has more beaches to collect trash than all the other states in the U.S. combined! This week I’ve been helping the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies inspire Alaskans to take care of our beaches by taking part in CoastWalk. Here is a snippet from the press release:

“The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies celebrates the 24th year of the Kachemak Bay CoastWalk, an annual community event, that will run from September 11-30. The focus on this year’s event will be to encourage personal commitments to a coastal CODE developed by the Alaska Brewing Company to promote the health of the Pacific Ocean and its coastline. The CODE stands for “A Clean Ocean Depends on Everyone.””

And this explains what the CoastWalks are about:

“CoastWalk is a unique community science and stewardship project with a three part mission to: build community awareness of the importance of our local marine habitats, gather data to detect long-term trends in biodiversity, and to observe the effects of human impacts on our shore. CoastWalk volunteers select a stretch of the shoreline to walk, collect survey information about natural changes and human impacts, and clean up trash.”

The Kachemak CoastWalk program is possible with support from NOAA Community-based
Marine Debris Clean-up and Prevention Grant Program and the Ocean Foundation’s Coastal CODE Fund created in partnership with the Alaskan Brewing Company.

The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies gave me the opportunity to present with them in local schools and at the CoastWalk kickoff event. The images I showed from Alaska’s coastlines highlighted the rugged beauty and diversity, as well as the wildlife and people that depend on them. I discussed the importance of the coastal environment to wildlife and our tourism and fishing economy. But that’s not all, a clean beach is also the place to go for some great recreation – surfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, horseback riding, running, yoga, etc..

The local newspapers printed articles prior to CoastWalk and my presentations if you’re interested in reading more.

Homer News: Surfer-photographer to speak at CoastWalk kick-of
Homer Tribune: CoastWalk 2008 – Mother ocean calls to all who care

Today the McNeil Canyon Elementary School was out in the rain picking up trash and taking notes on what they saw. Walking around in the rain doing schoolwork and picking up trash might not sound very fun, but judging from all the smiles I saw, everyone was having a great time and feeling proud of the work they were doing. It’s very encouraging to see kids learning to be stewards of our environment. I think this willingness to cleanup another person’s mess with a smile is very significant.

Here are a few photos from today’s CoastWalk:

CoastWalk beach cleanup photo by Scott Dickerson.

CoastWalk beach cleanup photo by Scott Dickerson.

CoastWalk beach cleanup photo by Scott Dickerson.

CoastWalk beach cleanup photo by Scott Dickerson.

CoastWalk beach cleanup photo by Scott Dickerson.

CoastWalk beach cleanup photo by Scott Dickerson.

Thanks to everyone who has, and will, do their part to clean up our beaches and keep them that way, I appreciate your efforts.