Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  A flower lies in a muddy rut in the City of Kenai's wild flower meadow Monday October 13, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska. The grounds of the meadow were damaged extensively after a pickup truck was driven through the area, city police arrested a Kasilof teen in connection to the case.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion A flower lies in a muddy rut in the City of Kenai's wild flower meadow Monday October 13, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska. The grounds of the meadow were damaged extensively after a pickup truck was driven through the area, city police arrested a Kasilof teen in connection to the case.

Kenai’s flower meadow heavily damaged

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Monday, October 13, 2014 3:39pm
  • News

At the height of its bloom in August, the wildflower field between the Kenai Spur Highway and Lawton Drive in Kenai was covered in hundreds of brilliantly colored blossoms. Now, it is covered in deep grooves and muddy ruts — the aftermath of an early morning encounter with an intoxicated pickup truck driver.

At least, that’s why Kenai police arrested Josiah McElwain, 19, when they found him in a nearby ditch at 3:30 Monday morning.

“The Kenai Police Department received a report of a truck that was driving back and forth in the field where the city had planted the flowers,” said Kenai Police Sgt. Ben Langham.

When officers arrived on scene, they found McElwain, of Kasilof, who then drove his truck into a nearby ditch and got stuck. He was arrested for driving under the influence, a class A misdemeanor which carries a mandatory sentence of at least 72 hours in jail, use of an ignition interlock device for at least six months and a fine of at least $1,500.

“The way I understand it is, he was actually driving in the field when officers (arrived),” Langham said.

Police are still investigating the incident and trying to determine the extent of the damage.

Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates estimated that about half of the field had been destroyed.

“Unfortunately for us, we just re-seeded it. We did our fall application last week,” Frates said. “A lot of that, in places that the vehicle travelled, is probably for naught. What it does, is it disrupts the seed bed and will leave areas where we don’t have seed.”

The meadow will likely have to be graded with a tractor and a plane, then re-seeded, Frates said.

The wildflowers growing thickly in the field were the result of hydroseeding, a planting process that uses a mix of seed and mulch. Frates said that process may have to happen again.

“To hydroseed the entire area, we’re probably looking at $5,600,” he said.

While the latest seeding didn’t cost that much, Frates said the field was to be supplemented with a smaller fall and spring seeding, the extent of the damage could necessitate another hydroseeding.

“It’s just an unfortunate incident. There’s a lot of the public, a lot of community residents that just fell in love with that and … for somebody to go and do what they did is just unfortunate, very unfortunate.”

Frates said the type of damage done to the flower meadow isn’t common in Kenai.

“We’ll see vandalism, but not to this (extent). This was pretty malicious,” he said.

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State parks advisory boards accepting applictions

Alaska State Park advisory boards provide state park managers with recommendations on management issues

A recently added port-a-potty is available in the parking lot of Slikok Multi-Use Trails on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Slikok makes sanitation upgrades

A port-a-potty was installed to due to the increased popularity of the trails

Sen. Dan Sullivan speaks at the Kenai Classic Roundtable at Kenai Peninsula College on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Local students nominated to compete for appointments in military academies

Students interested in pursuing appointment to the military service academies can apply for nomination through their state’s congressional delegation

Kenai resident Barbara Kennedy testifies in support of allowing more city residents to own chickens during a city council meeting on Wednesday, Feb.1, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council bumps back vote on chicken ordinance

The ordinance would allow Kenai residents to keep up to 12 chicken hens on certain lots

Sens. Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, right, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, discuss a bill proposing a nearly 17% increase in per-student education funding Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini /Juneau Empire)
State Senate bill would bump per-student funding amount by $1,000

If approved, the legislation would bump state education funding by more than $257 million

Recognizable components make up this metal face seen in a sculpture by Jacob Nabholz Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, at the Kenai Art Center, in Kenai, Alaska, as part of Metalwork & Play. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Metalwork gets time to shine

Metal is on showcase this month at the Kenai Art Center

This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden administration issued a long-awaited study on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, that recommends allowing three oil drilling sites in the region of far northern Alaska. The move, while not final, has angered environmentalists who see it as a betrayal of President Joe Biden’s pledges to reduce carbon emissions and promote green energy. (ConocoPhillips via AP)
Biden administration recommends major Alaska oil project

The move — while not final — drew immediate anger from environmentalists

Homer Electric Association General Manager Brad Janorschke testifies before the Senate Resources Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (Screenshot via Gavel Alaska)
Senate group briefed on future of Cook Inlet gas

Demand for Cook Inlet gas could outpace supply as soon as 2027

Most Read