Kansas City Cleanup 2021

Saturday, August 21, 2021
River Front Park, Kansas City, Missouri

What a huge success in Kansas City. This was our first time back to the area since 2018, and we were itching to get back to our large-scale cleanups and see our Kansas City friends. The heat—and some rain—couldn’t stop our crew and volunteers from coming out to clean up the Big Muddy with us. We had a total of 166 volunteers came out to clean up along nearly 10 miles of river along Kansas City out of Riverfront Park. In just one day, we picked up and removed around 5 tons of trash, including over 2 tons of tires that were dumped under the I-435 bridge. Our hardcore volunteer crew members arrived Wednesday to help set up camp, host a Sunset Cruise with sponsors on Thursday, scout the river on Friday, and then execute our cleanup on Saturday. Thank you so much!

Tires with a view. Photo by Anqi Dai

Thursday, we hosted friends from Spire, Heartland Conservation Alliance, KC Water, Paddle KC, Rotary Club, Llama Racks, and several other partners for dinner and a sunset cruise on our boats with a fabulous view of the Kansas City skyline. After a long hot day, it was great to get out on the river with the individuals and organizations that support us and make our work possible.  

On Friday, we scouted the river for our volunteers, noting areas of high-density trash and potential hazards. One boat went upstream towards downtown Kansas City, and up the Kansas River. The other boat went downstream 5 miles past the Blue River. Unfortunately, we found numerous trash spots with a serious amount of garbage. Fortunately, we were anticipating plenty of volunteers the next day to help pick it all up! That evening, a storm hit Kansas City with high gust winds and decent rainfall. This well-needed storm made for cooler weather for the cleanup!

Volunteers heading out on the Missouri River to clean up the banks. Photo by Melanie Cheney

Saturday was the big day. The first volunteers began arriving around 8:30 for registration. As more and more arrived, we began putting groups through our orientation and safety talk, then got them fitted for lifejackets, armed them with tools and placed them onto boats with our experienced boat operators and operators from our friends at the Missouri Department of Conservation and Healthy Rivers Partnership. 15 groups set out to their locations and came back several hours later tired, muddy and full of smiles. Each volunteer came back feeling accomplished and some of our younger volunteers brought back some trash treasures to submit in the trash contest and participated in our new Missouri River Explorer badge program.

One of many boatloads of tires. Photo by Anqi Dai

We discovered a dumping spot right under the I-435 bridge during our trash scout that we were unable to get to with volunteers. However, after the cleanup event about 10 eager crew members participated in hauling out the tire dump. The teamwork was so inspiring! We were able to take out almost 180 tires from just that location alone. Our crew comes from all across Missouri, and a good chuck of our crew that showed up was from Kansas City. We appreciate our committed River Relief family that came out to help!

Another successful cleanup with a full 40-yard dumpster. Photo by Kevin Tosie

Trash Tally

156 Bags Trash!! Plus…
208 tires without rims
9 tires on rim
numerous scalloped tire pieces for landscape decor
1 motorcycle tire
1 skid steer tire
4 lawn tractor tires
3 bike tires
4 4-wheeler tires
1 18-wheeler tire
4 tire chairs (4 tires each)
2 tire teacups (3 tires each)
1 railroad brake wheel
1 4-ft rusted iron spring
1 lead pipe
1 copper “witch’s hat” roofing piece
1 radiator
1 transistor radio
1 long handled axe
1 rusted engine part
1 garden hose
1 railroad spike
1 bull pin
3 large Styrofoam chunks
1 50-gallon tank
1 propane tank
1 rubber garbage bin
7 5-gallon buckets
1 metal barrel bottom
1 milk crate
1 plastic tub
1 metal 5-gallon bucket
1 plastic tub lid
½ 50-gallon barrel
1 orange 2-gallon bucket
2 1-gallon jugs
1 industrial dish drainer
1 folding chair
1 plastic yard chair
1 outdoor chaise lounge
1 Mizzou beach towel
1 blanket
1 comforter
1 foam mattress pad
1 huge section of carpet padding
1 support column and wheels for office chair
1 full size mattress
1 baby crib mattress
2 mini refrigerators
1 freezer chest
1 lead pipe
1 household lights timer
1 cell phone motherboard
1 charge strip
1 flat screen TV
1 aluminum frying pan
1 couch
1 sewing machine cabinet
2 stuffed chairs
1 stuffed recliner
1 piano pedal base
2 laundry bins
3 tarps
1 lawn mower grass catcher
1 section corrugated tin roof
2 iron locks
12 iron spikes
2 oil containment booms (12 sections, 4 sections)
2 rubber mats
1 8’ garage door panel
4 steel I-beams
3 orange cones
4 pad stands for orange cones
3 sections orange construction fencing
1 big ass timber
2 PVC pipes
28 rebar chunks
several lengths of barge line
metal stripping
500-ft HDPE conduit cable tubing
500-ft yellow conduit
1 car back seat
1 car front grill
1 car bumper
1 car wheel
1 set car floor mats
1 iron weight
1 steering wheel
4-ft irrigation tubing
1 baby carriage
1 kiddie pool
1 sandbox
1 oversize inflatable plastic basketball
1 sled
1 softball
1 ball bat
countless rubber balls
1 KC Chiefs ballcap
1 fishing bobber
1 painting of daisies growing out of a mannikin neck
2 hoodies
1 sandal
1 men’s black leather shoe, Cole Haan, size 10, polished
1 “thumbs up” squeeze toy
1 large feathers (turkey, owl)
1 tube mascara

Cleanup Results

Photo album on Flickr!

In the News:

KCTV 5 - "Volunteers gather to clean up the Missouri River at Riverfront Park" by Eric Smith and Nick Sloan

Kansas City Star - "Want a trash-free Missouri River? You can help clean up this huge community asset"

Blog by volunteer Mary Bunten - "Wonderful Duty: Being on the River"

Total Volunteers: 166

  • Volunteers signed in: 131
  • River Relief Crew: 35
  • Boats: 6 (4 MRR boats; 2 MDC boats)
  • River Miles Cleaned: 9.3 (MM 357.2 - 366.5)
  • River Stage: 9.2-ft. @ Kansas City gauge
  • Landfill: 2.7 tons
  • Scrap Metal: 0.5 tons
  • Tires: 217 - 2.3 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 5 TONS

Groups Participating: Evergy Green Team, UMKC, Bass Pro Shops, Stream Team 41, Paddle KC, KC Water Services, American Cricket Academy

Fun Team Names: First Out, Trash Pandas, Quackers, Second Group, KC Water 1, Paddle KC, Team Banjo, Muddy Buddies, Troop 247, We Buy Trash, Muddy Mess, The Chiefs

Event Sponsors

Cleanup programs like these would not be possible without our generous donors and sponsors.

"Great Blue Heron" Event Sponsors

Bass-Pro-OutdoorFundLogoStacked-1000pxVeterans United Foundation

"Paddlefish" Event Sponsors

EvergyWestRock Foundation Sponsor LogoMARC

"Pallid Sturgeon" Event Sponsors

VanTrust Real Estate

Bryan Johnson

Budget DumpsterRCs Chickenkcwater_horizontal_logo4c

Event Partners

Missouri Department of ConservationRotary - KC Rotary South

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