This was our first river cleanup in Leavenworth and Weston. First and foremost, we have to commend these two river communities for their hospitality and openness to our organization. Both communities were easy to work with and made planning this first-time event fun and seamless. During our trash scouts, we were amazed at the amount of trash we DIDN’T see. Weston, Missouri and Leavenworth, Kansas are two of the cleanest river communities we’ve ever seen. We give them kudos for their tremendous efforts to keep their communities and the Missouri River, clean!
As the event approached, impending river and weather conditions had us on the edge of our seats. The river crested at 18.2 feet just two days before the event. That’s only less than two feet from initial flood stage. The river levels then dropped rapidly to 12.5 feet by Saturday morning, even with rainfall that came in on Saturday morning – perfect conditions for BIG mud.
A little bit of rain and mud didn’t scare off this hardcore group of volunteers. 98 participants still showed up in the rain to help clean the river, removing about 4.1 tons of trash from about 14 miles of the river! With great help from the Missouri Department of Conservation and Burns & McDonnell, we had enough boats that each boat could stay with its group, making for a more efficient and educational event for everyone! Our boat drivers were able to impart their knowledge about what volunteers were seeing on the river while they nosed in and out of trash eddies to gather the floating trash. Other boat drivers were able to stay with the boat while their cleanup crews cleaned the banks for pre-scouted trash sites.
In addition to sites along the banks of the river, we also identified some land sites near the river. All in all, we collected an astounding 4.1 tons of trash! (Check out the trash tally below). The City of Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth Fire Departments showed up at cleanup headquarters, Riverfront Park in Leavenworth, to provide safety boats and on-site medical support. Thankfully, we had yet another accident-free cleanup, thanks to our wonderful boat drivers and safety instructors.
After everyone cleaned their designated trash sites, the Leavenworth Lion’s Club came to the cleanup headquarters to assemble lunches for all of our volunteers. The smiling faces of the Lion’s Club Members were the perfect end to a wet and soggy morning on the Big Muddy. After lunch, we had a trash contest, and the sun came out. The trash haul after lunch was beautiful and sunny, naturally. I’m so proud of the people who showed up in the rain to help clean the river. Thank you, volunteers, for making an incredible difference in this world!
47 bags of trash
1 trailer load of vinyl siding
1 - 18’ culvert pipe
1 large section of mobile home wall
10 - 3’ pieces asbestos pipe
1 iron pipe rebar
1 – 5-gal. plastic bucket
1 railroad track section
5 corrugated tin strips
1 boat dock with 4 barrels
1 boat bow
4 chunks o’ Styrofoam
1 chest freezer
2 plastic tub tops
1 wooden spool
1 soccer ball
1 55-gal. metal drum with unknown chemical
Total Volunteers: 98
Total Trash Tonnage: 4.1 tons
Groups Participating: Missouri River Relief Crew, Missouri Department of Conservation, Burns & McDonnell, Baker Image Group, Bennett Packaging of Kansas City, Inc., City of Leavenworth, City of Weston, Colliers International Kansas City, Leavenworth Lion’s Club, Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources, Missouri American Water, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Ecological Services Unit, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Weston Friends of Big Muddy, Rivermiles, City of Leavenworth Fire Dept., Fort Leavenworth Fire Dept.
Fun Team Names: (8 Teams by River, 2 Teams by Land) Goody Two Shoes, Triple Trash, Toothless, Buccaneers, Coalition, Blue Bags, In!, Wet Willies
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Ecological Services Unit