Big Muddy Clean Sweep 2021

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, Missouri River Relief launched a 2-month long rolling cleanup program covering nearly 200 miles of remote, never before cleaned river!

The stretch of river from Kansas City to Columbia, MO covers nearly 200 river miles. This stretch of river is remote, but is no stranger to trash and waste from upstream cities and farmland. Many of these areas have never been cleaned before. These stretches of river suffer from a myriad of pollution from waste tires, white goods, hazardous material and non-point pollution from illegally and improperly disposed of trash. Forty-three percent of Missourians receive their drinking water from the Missouri River and we made it our goal to make this a healthier resource for everyone.

We reached out and worked with members of the river communities that we visited. With a total of 11 cleanups throughout the project, we had 343 volunteers and managed to pull out 847 bags of trash! We also pulled out 382 tires of various sizes! The tonnage for the whole Big Muddy Clean Sweep project totaled to 23.6 tons of trash! You can see these numbers broken down by cleanups below.

The BMCS had 5 core crew members that worked the whole project. The project was broken up into shifts so that volunteer crew would have an opportunity to come out for smaller increments. We had 10 shifts and each shift had up to 5 people join our efforts. We also provided opportunity for volunteer crew to come out on community cleanup days to help out just for the day. Lastly, we created a MealTrain for volunteers to sign up to bring us meals! All the volunteer assistance made this project run as smooth as it could, and we appreciated every last bit of help. 

Some of the logistics for the BMCS had to be planned day-by-day. Fleet, people, and trash had to constantly be moved around and make sure we were being as efficient as possible. One of our biggest road blocks for this project was storms or the river rising. Fortunately, we always made sure to keep track of those things so that we can work around them! At one point, the river rose 3 feet! The river rise made for a fun day of catching big items that floated downstream. We also ran into boat trouble. At one point on the trip, we only had one boat to work with! This caused 1 of our cleanups to be canceled, but we found a way to continue on with picking up trash!

Now trash.. we saw the highest accumulations of trash closer towards Kansas City just right on the banks, and it felt like when you picked up one piece of trash, there was just more right under it. This diminished as we passed Lexington, but as we swept just above the banks, we would find high accumulations of trash from rivers rising, or floods. We also saw a lot of floating trash build up in log jams. 

Between community cleanup days, the BMCS core crew and the volunteer crew that signed up for the shift would go out and attempt to pick up all where we missed. We would stage the collected trash on the banks to do major hauls, which was almost a day in itself! The crew also kept track of where we were finding this trash. We have a master river map that we would mark the location and what trash was found there. 

There are so many great memories to look back on, and the hard work that was put into all of it is beyond words. To make sure that people could look back on what we did day-to-day, we created a blog for each shift! Be sure to check out the blog for more detail on the cleanups and what our days looked like on the Big Muddy Clean Sweep!

Aug 21 - Kansas City Cleanup (Riverfront Park)

Riverfront Park, Kansas City, MO


  • Over the course of 1 day...
  • 166 volunteers (day crew and 1 cleanup)
  • 156 bags of trash!!
  • 5 tons total pulled out of the river

Check out the event webpage for more details! 

Aug. 24- Kansas City Cleanup (LaBenite Park)

LaBenite Park


  • Over the course of 2 days..
  • 30 volunteers (day crew and 2 community cleanups- Department of Natural Resources and Spire)
  • 75 bags of trash!!

Read our first blog post for more details and photos. 

Aug. 28 - Sibley Community Cleanup 

Sibley, MO Boat Ramp


  • Over the course of 4 days..
  • 16 volunteers (day crew and 1 community cleanup)
  • 114 bags of trash!!

Check out Alyssa's blog post "So...Many...Straws!" for more photos & details! 

Sept. 1- Lexington Cleanup

Lexington Access


  • Over the course of 3 days..
  • 18 volunteers
  • 47 bags of trash

Read our blog post for more details and photos. 

Sept. 4- Waverly Cleanup

Waverly Access


  • Over the course of 6 days..
  • 27 volunteers
  • 85 bags of trash!

Read our blog post for more details and photos. 

Sept. 18 - Miami Cleanup

Miami, MO


  • Over the course of 4 days..
  • 24 volunteers
  • 43 bags of trash!

Read our blog post for more details and photos. 

Sept. 25- Glasgow Cleanup

Stump Island, Glasgow, MO


  • Over the course of 5 days..
  • Glasgow cleanup canceled.
  • 9 crew members
  • 91 bags of trash!!

Read our blog post for more details and photos. 

Sept. 27-28 - Jameson Island and Lisbon Chute Cleanup

Jameson Island/Lisbon Chute


  • Over the course of 5 days..
  • 8 crew members
  • 86 bags of trash!

Read our blog post for more details and photos. 

Oct. 9- Boonville (Franklin Island) Cleanup

Franklin Island Access


  • Over the course of 4 days..
  • 20 volunteers
  • 46 bags of trash!

Read our blog post for more details and photos. 

Oct. 11- Oct. 12- Rocheport Cleanup

Rocheport/Moniteau Creek


  • Over the course of 4 days..
  • 2 cleanups
  • 39 volunteers
  • 95 bags of trash!

Read our blog post for more details and photos. 

Oct. 15 - Cooper's Landing Cleanup

This was an event based out of Cooper's Landing with our partners at Job Point's YouthBuild program.

Big Muddy Clean Sweep Results

Total Volunteers: 343
Boats: All 5 MRR boats! 
River Miles Cleaned: 119 miles (marked with trash accumulation)
Landfill: 14.45 tons
Scrap Metal: 3.6 tons
Tires: 382 - 5.49 tons
Total Trash Tonnage: 23.6 TONS

Groups Participating: Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Spire, Boonslick Master Naturalists, Evergy Green Team, UMKC, Bass Pro Shops, Stream Team 41, Paddle KC, KC Water Services, American Cricket Academy

Read about our adventure on our River Notes Blog!

- Full Results Links

- Check out our photos on Facebook and Flickr!

A Big Muddy Thank You To Our Event Sponsors:

"Captain" Event Sponsors

"Mate" Event Sponsors

"Engineer" Event Sponsors

WestRock Foundation Sponsor LogoGFL EnvironmentalMissouri Department of Conservation

"Crew" Event Sponsors

Budget Dumpster

Event Partners

Missouri Stream Team

Ready for Action?

This website is created and maintained by Missouri River Relief, P.O. Box 463, Columbia, MO 65205
MRR is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Federal Tax ID (EIN) 03-0425187
© 2024 Missouri River Relief | Website development and design by Pixel Jam Digital
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram