We certainly ended our cleanup season on a high note thanks to spectacular fall weather, the beautiful Stump Island Park and the best volunteers any organization could ask for. We were lucky enough to spend 5 fabulous days with some of our closest friends during the Glasgow Missouri River Cleanup while working together to care for and improve the magnificent Missouri River. Throughout the weekend we removed 2.3 TONS of trash from 10 miles of river with 123 volunteers!
Our staff and a small group of our volunteer crew made it to Stump Island Park on Wednesday to set up camp and prepare for the weekend. These big cleanups involve many hardworking folks behind the scenes to prepare for the event, so we set up a camp kitchen to make sure everyone stays fueled throughout the week. However, the amenities at Stump Island Park in Glasgow, MO had us feeling pretty spoiled! A bathhouse, running water and electricity are things we’re not totally accustomed to having during these events. If you’re looking to camp along the Missouri River, we highly suggest this place!
Thursday morning, our education team took out a group of military veterans with the Veterans Affairs: Substance Abuse Unit. We shared the ecology, history and management of the Missouri River and explored an island, then a small river cleanup in the afternoon. A particularly special treat was several bald eagles that flew over the top of the boat! It was a great time sharing the Missouri River with those that have served our country.
The rest of the MRR staff and crew focused on launching our entire fleet of boats and putting some final touches on camp before setting up for our Big Muddy Sunset Cruise that evening. Wherever we go we like to invite partners, sponsors and friends of the organization out for a sunset cruise to thank them for all that they do. This time around we decided to focus on our Volunteer Crew who are the backbone of our organization; the boots on the ground who help make what we do possible. To kick this night up a notch we invited Leah and Jeff Thomas, parents of our amazing Stewardship Coordinator, Alyssa Thomas. Leah, Jeff and Teresa cooked one of the best meals we’ve had at crew camp We enjoyed a few authentic Filipino dishes – including pancit and chicken adobo, followed by biko – a sticky rice cake. Thank you so much!
On Friday we conducted our trash scout which involves us heading out to scout the river, searching for areas of high-density trash and cataloging site hazards. Each stretch of river we visit has its own qualities and this was no different. During this trash scout, we were finding sites to drop volunteers off, but this stretch of river has very steep banks which reduced our cleanup sites to many sites with small amounts of trash compared to our usual handful of sites with a lot of trash. Regardless, we roll with the punches and clean what we can.
Saturday was the big day! 83 volunteers joined us in the morning, each eager to get out and do their part for this amazing resource. We also had support from the Missouri Department of Conservation (LINK) who take time out of their busy schedules to provide boats and operators to help us ferry volunteers. Throughout the morning we were able to clean up most of the sites that we marked and were able to get the remaining ones after lunch during the trash haul. In total we removed 104 bags of trash, 22 BIG tires and 39 large pieces of styrofoam.
Our friends at Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO) have been supporting our cleanups for a few years now by giving our cleanups the data behind the stewardship efforts. MRBO takes all the trash that we collected and catalogs the manufacturer/corporation responsible for the product. This data goes into a larger report called Break Free From Plastics to identify the world’s top polluting corporations - click here for more information. Thank you, MRBO!
By the time Sunday morning rolled around we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to each other. This season was truly one for the books and we are so grateful for all the time that we got to spend with each other on the river. We can’t wait to get back at it in the spring!
Check out the trash tally below!
104 Bags Trash!!
39 large pieces yellow barge foam plus 50-gal barrel and 3 trash bags full of same
18 tires on rims
1 tractor tire
1 giant Mack truck tires without rim (Goodyear)
1 giant Mack truck inner tube
2 5-gallon plastic buckets
1 30-gallon metal barrel
1 50-gallon metal barrel
8 30-gallon or larger plastic tubs
1 chemical pump
1 freon tank
1 55-gallon cooler
2 picnic coolers
1 cooler lid
6 large Styrofoam chunks
1 Fisher-Price playground bench
1 refrigerator door
1 boat seat
2 boat bumpers
1 car fender
1 folding chair
1 cat litter pan
1 4x6 black plastic cover
1 private property signpost
1 488-mile marker
1 length of rebar
1 steel cable wire 10’ long
2 corrugated pipes 3”x6’
1 croquet ball
1 MacGregor baseball
1 mud boot
2 Croc shoes (one with strap)
1 flip flop (white)
1 raccoon print in very solid dried mud
1 moss covered tennis shoe
1 message in a bottle
Total Volunteers: 123
Total Trash Tonnage: 2.3
Groups Participating: Missouri River Relief Crew, CMU Environmental Science and Marine Biology Club, MU Venture Club, Sustain Mizzou
Fun Team Names: Gnarly Nematodes, Cool Trash Pirates, The Party Boat, Cool Kids, Cantankerous Catfish, Muddy Trash Cats, Elephant Explorers, Magnificent Red Ear Sliders, Crab Grabbers, Floppy Bass, MRR Crew, Ornery Octonauts, Rocket Boys, Missourian Photographers
“The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood.” It’s easy to see all the trash we pull out of the river during a cleanup and think who would do this? Or how does this happen? The truth is, we all play our part. Even when we responsibly dispose of or recycle our waste, it can still find its way to the river through gaps in waste management systems.
So, we have a challenge for you: What’s one single-use plastic item in your home or daily life that you can commit to replacing with a reusable alternative? Remember, clean rivers start at home, and with all of us! Check out our Clean Rivers Start at Home webpage for more information.