A local teenager’s invention has been put into action cleaning Kenai’s beach.
Since this summer’s personal use dipnet fishery season launched July 10, Kenai Parks and Recreation Department has been using a supersized magnetic rake to sweep up metal objects left on the beach after many years of pallet bonfires, lost tent stakes and littering.
The contraption, which is made of a magnetic bar mounted behind a tractor rake, is based on a magnetic leaf-rake prototype developed by Kenai Central High School sophomore Riley Graves for the Caring for the Kenai competition held in April. Graves won sixth-place at the annual contest, which challenges students to develop conservation projects.
Graves demonstrated the potential of the magnetic rake concept to the Kenai City Council on May 16 by pulling nails from a box of sand.
Based on Graves’ idea, Kenai Public Works Department shop foreman Randy Parrish built an adjustable chain suspension system for a large-scale version of the tool. Parrish said the magnet can pick up a nail from 8 inches away, making it able to pick up nails buried deep in the sand.
Kenai Parks and Recreation employee Jacob Hart has been sweeping the beach nightly since the beginning of the season and estimated he’s picked up about 15 pounds of metal debris.
“When you drive over a dark spot in the sand, where you can tell it’s been a fire pit, you can hear the nails going tink, tink, tink,” he said.