Kansas City Missouri River Cleanup 2013

La Benite Park - Sugar Creek, MO
Saturday, October 5th, 2013

The 9th annual KC Big Muddy Clean-up was a success! The cleanup on Saturday, Oct. 5, was the second collaborative project between Missouri River Relief (MRR) and Healthy Rivers Partnership (HRP), a newly formed river-stewardship, not-for-profit organization in Kansas City.

Even on a chilly Saturday morning after a good soaking rain the evening before, over 280 volunteers teamed up at La Benite Park in Sugar Creek, MO to help clean-up 10 miles of the Missouri River.  Over 174 bags of trash were collected, along with tons of scrap metal, appliances, and other materials including a Jet Ski!

KC LaBenite Photo 2013
Trash Haul! Crew goes back out on the river after lunch to round up the trash that the general volunteers collect! Photo by Melanie Cheney.

A huge thanks to our agency partners who provided boats at the clean-up to help shuttle volunteers: we were joined by the Mo. Dept. of Conservation and Burns & McDonnell, in addition to our 5. 

And it was also a real honor to have the Jesse Gochenour Memorial crew on board with their private boat, helping us clean up several small beaches full of trash below the Blue River. 

With the federal shutdown, the EPA and Corps of Engineers were not able to help out, but we saw some of our EPA and Corps friends in the volunteer crowd!  Many thanks & praises to Sugar Creek Parks & Rec, our bobcat operator Kevin, and to the North Central Neighbors for cooking & providing lunch! 

High school, elementary and college students showed up in full force along with church groups, environmental clubs, local fishermen, scout troops, corporate teams, and more.  Our annual Kansas City area clean-up is usually our biggest event of the year, and this was no exception.  What an amazing group effort! 

Busy morning boat ramp: boats are lined up and ready to take groups out on the river. Groups head down to our dispatch team to be placed on a boat! Photo by Bernie Arnold.

Thank You Kansas City!

After bringing the volunteers back for lunch the River Relief crew worked on hauling back all of the trash.  Check out the full trash tally below and photo essay on our Rivernotes Blog. To see photos from the event, check out our Flickr or Facebook albums.

It takes a real leap of faith to get down & dirty on the Mighty MO and we can't thank our Kansas City sponsors, partners and volunteers (listed on the right) enough for all of the support!

Boat operators head back out to pick up groups from their trash spots. Muddy boot volunteers are provided lunch when they return to the boat ramp. Photo by Bernie Arnold.


The week leading up to the clean-up a small and dedicated crew of River Relief volunteers helped us put on 2 "Day on the River" education events for students from Staley High School and Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology.  Presenters from Lakeside Nature Center, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Missouri River Relief set up educational boothes, while half the student roated between boothes and a hands on river clean-up in River Relief boats.  "Day on the River" is sponsored by grants from U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceMo. Dept. of Resources and the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.

Kids race to recycle at the watershed festival the Friday before the river cleanup. Photo by Melanie Cheney

The Friday before the clean-up, River Relief also participated in a watershed festival organized by Healthy Rivers Partnership at Lakeside Nature Center.  Some of our long time and relentless volunteer crew members helped us present the "Recycle Relay Race", the "Trash Boat" talk, and the "Enviro Scape" at the festival interacting with over 160 elementary students from the region at each booth. 

All in all, we were able to teach over 230 students & teachers, conduct 6 service learning river trips and clean 5 miles of the Missouri River with the next generation of river lovers.  That made our trip to KC right there.  Many, many thanks to the folks in KC during that week that helped make it happen... Dave & Fran Stous, Bill Fessler, Jim Stewart, Patrick, Janie Becker, Laurie Ferretti and Kris Mattern.

More about the Healthy Rivers Partnership:

HRP is founded on the seven previous KC cleanups conducted by River Relief and grows from Kansas City’s commitment to water resources. HRP’s new Executive Director is Vicki Richmond, former program manager and development director for Missouri River Relief, and she remains a valued MRR crew member. Larry O’Donnell is also a long-time MRR crew member and he represents a bridge between the two organizations with his membership on the Board of Directors for both organizations.

The Healthy Rivers Partnership uses the power of partnerships to raise awareness of and connect people to healthy rivers through hands-on projects. HRP plans to take a variety of actions, including volunteer cleanups of trash, water-quality monitoring, invasive non-native species eradication and habitat improvement. HRP also provides learning opportunities such as the Missouri River Watershed Festival for middle school students, educational field trips and booths at community events.

“Missouri River Relief is very excited to work with a new organization that has a mission that aligns with our own,” said MRR Director Jeff Barrow. “I see this partnership as a positive example of how action-oriented groups along the river corridor can work together to improve the Missouri River and her communities.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, call:
HRP Executive Director Vicki Richmond, 816-812-5166

Trash traps like these commonly occur right after a rain fall and the river slightly rises. Then when the river lowers, the trash gets stuck in these swirling waters behind dikes as the river lowers back down. Photo by Jim Armor.

Trash Tally:

174 Bags of Trash!!

11 Tires on the Rim
9 Tires w/o Rim
1 Jet Ski
3 Propane Tanks
1 Fire Extinguisher
3 Florescent Light Ballasts
1 Trash Dispenser
1 Hinged Pillow
1 Stroller
1 Cooler
4 Chunks O’ Styrofoam
10 5-gal. Plastic Buckets
5 Orange Traffic Barrels
2 55- gal. Plastic Barrels
1 Chair Frame
1 Camp Chair
1 Shower Rod
1 plastic sidewalk Ashtray
1 Rubber Hose
1 Car Bumper
1 Engine Cover
1 Gas Tank
2 Hubcaps
1 Rubber Noodle
1 Plastic Slide
1 Ernie Doll (of Bert & Ernie)
1 Guitar Case
1 Soccer Ball
2 Basket Balls
½ of a Shopping Cart
1 Syringe
1 Chain Link Fence in pieces
15 lb metal Counter Weight
10 ton Screw Shackle
1 7-ft Metal Culvert filled with Stryofoam
1 Metal Chest
22 yards of Heavy Barge Line
1 Fishing Pole
1 Boat Locker
7 Tent Poles
1 Swimming Pool Liner, Cover & Straps
1 PVC Pipe
Construction Fencing

Kansas City Cleanup Results

Photo album on Flickr

Photo album on Facebook

Total Volunteers: 289

  • River Relief Crew: 22
  • Boats: 12  (5 Missouri River Relief, 5 MDC, 1 Burns & Mac, 1 Private)
  • River Miles Cleaned: 10 (MM 357 – MM 347)
  • River Stage: 10-ft. @ Kansas City gauge
  • Landfill: 3.2 tons
  • Scrap Metal: 0.07 tons
  • Tires: 25 - 0.4 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 3.7 tons

Fun Team Names: Jesse Gochenour Memorial Fund, River Rats Troop 332, Spider Monkeys, Green Inks, Cargills, Frog Legs, Lena, Lipton Tea Bags, GAP, Obnoxious Otters, River Hawks, SEA Life, Evil Bleeding Fish, William Christman, Brownies, Mark Twain, Sharks, 6 Rocks, Brownies 2, Rockhurst, Mohawks, Americorps, OWWC, No Names, Stewart, Awesomer Brownies 3, Black Sheep, Mo Miscreants, Meercats, Jason's Fam

Education Event Results

  • Total Students: 234
  • MRR Crew: 11
  • Days on the Rive: 2
  • Service Learning Cleanups:  6
  • Watershed Festival: 1
  • River Miles: 5  (Missouri Rivermiles 360-365)
  • River Level: 10 ft
  • Tires: 2 Tires (.02 tons)
  • Landfill Tonnage: .76 tons
  • Scrap Metal: .03 tons

Total Trash Tonnage:  .8 Tons!

A Big Muddy Thank You To Our Event Sponsors:

Briarcliff Development Co.
Burns & McDonnell
Debruce Foundation
EarthShare of Missouri
Faultless Starch
G Kenneth Baum
Jackson County
Kansas City Power & Light
KCMO Water Services
Layne Christensen
MO Dept. of Conservation
MO Dept. of Natural Resources
Pat Jones
Port Authority of Kansas City
Rivermiles, LLC
St. James Winery
Tom Smith
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Columbia Ecological Services Field

Event Partners

Advantage Recycling
Allied Waste
Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology
Cosentino’s Price Chopper
City of Sugar Creek
Friends of Lakeside Nature Center
KC Wildlands
Little Blue River Watershed Coalition
Mid-America Regional Council
Missouri Stream Team
North Central Neighbors
Staley High School

Big River Cleanup Manual

With the support of the National Park Service, we published our Big River Cleanup Manual, sharing our 13 years experience hosting cleanups on the Missouri River. Click here for more info and to download a copy.

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