CoastWalk kicks off with reception Thursday

Everybody loves Kachemak Bay, right? There may be no better event that shares and shows that love than the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies’ annual CoastWalk, which kicks off this evening with a reception at Grace Ridge Brewing from 5:30-7 p.m.

The reception is an opportunity to sign up for the CoastWalk, which promotes cleaning of as much coastline in the area as possible. Volunteers will be able to sign up to clean up and monitor one of 32 zones in Kachemak Bay or to participate in community cleanups on both sides of the bay, which will happen every weekend from Sept. 14 to Oct. 5.

It also will be an opportunity to learn more about:

• the Marine Debris Art Show happening from 4-7 p.m. Friday at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, 708 Smokey Bay Way;

• the Community Marine Debris Art Workshops happening Sept. 7 and 14 as part of the Alaska World Arts Festival;

• the concentrated Spit cleanup happening Sept. 29;

• the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, or COASST, training happening Sept. 29; and

• the Boomerang Bag sewing bees happening from 5:30-7:30 p.m. every Wednesday through Oct. 2, also at CACS.

The real highlight of the month of activities, however, might be the people who participate, said Melanie Dufour, outreach and marketing manager for the center.

“It really is a project that can include people of all ages and of all persuasions,” she said. “Early this summer a couple came in who were concerned about some plastic they had seen on beaches of Kachemak Bay and wondered what they could do. They were a couple who loves four-wheeling the beach. I think it really struck me how it’s not just the stereotypical greenie that is willing to give time and effort to keep our bay clean of plastics.”

Everyone is invited to participate in CoastWalk, and no experience is required. Young students often take part through the schools and get valuable lessons not only in science but also in community service.

Plus, all ages are invited to participate in the sewing bees for Boomerang Bags, said Henry Reiske, marine debris educator at the center. No sewing experience is required. Boomerang Bags are part of an international effort to encourage people to use reusable shopping bags, instead of plastic ones. The project was started in Australia and picked up by Kachemak Bay Girl Scouts and then Coastal Studies. Several retailers in Homer hand out the bags, including the Alaskan Center for Coastal Studies, Ulmer’s, the Homer Bookstore, Captain’s Toy Chest, Sustainable Wares, Cole’s Market, Wagon Wheel, Homer Shores Sunken Treasures and Grace Ridge Brewing. Other retailers who want the bags are invited to contact Coastal Studies.

The community art pieces that will be made in the workshops will be mosaics fashioned out of plastic caps and set to go into recycling stations at some of Homer’s busiest parks — Karen Hornaday Park, Bishop’s Beach and Mariner Park, said Reiske. Anyone with plastic bottle tops to donate can drop them by the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies headquarters.

The tradition of Coastwalk began in 1984. Last year, more than 2,700 pounds of marine debris were collected from the bay.

Those unable to attend Thursday’s reception can sign up for CoastWalk activities at the center’s office on Smokey Bay Way.

Lori Evans is a freelance writer living in Homer and is the former editor and publisher of the Homer News.