St. Joseph Missouri River Cleanup 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010
French Bottom Boat Ramp, saint Joseph, Missouri

Flooding in June postponed the first scheduled date of this cleanup, but we chose a great day for the reschedule. Over 275 volunteers filled two huge roll off dumpsters and removed 117 tires from the river environment.

We had not been back to the St. Joseph area for a clean-up since 2004, when we embarked on our “Voyage of Recovery”, picking up trash in nine communities ahead of the Lewis and Clark reenactment. It was good to be back.

Saint Joseph Clean up 2010
Volunteers lining up for a fun day on the river. Photo by Hana Kelenberger

The community energy behind this was huge. Large groups from local companies like Missouri American Water and Boeringer Ingelheim came to help. Thanks to the publicity work of former Mo. Dept. of Conservation (MDC) fisheries supervisor Harold Kerns, bunches of cub scouts and boy scouts lent a hand. Missouri Western State University students from the Alphi Phi Omega service fraternity and the Wildlife Society hopped on board. And bunches of families hit the river for the most beautiful day of the fall.

There was no Kansas/Missouri divide evident here: both states came out in force to clean the river that forms the border between the two. (Except right at clean-up headquarters, where the Missouri River used to loop westward around the French Bottoms. This area remains in Missouri despite the fact that the Corps of Engineers cut off the loop as they were channelizing the river back in the 30’s, stranding this little piece of MO on the Kansas side.)

Saint Joseph 2010 Cleanup American Water
Missouri American Water booth at Saint Joseph. Photo by John Wood

Our boat operators came from MDC Missouri River Unit out of Chillicothe, the St. Joseph MDC office and Region 7 EPA down in Kansas City, KS. Several local boaters arrived for the trash haul in the afternoon. One of them, a huge pontoon boat, filled themselves to the brim – an eye-popping load of trash. Ron Jillette of St. Joe Parks and Rec worked the ramp all day long (and beyond) with his back hoe, saving all of our backs. Thanks all of you – we couldn’t do it without you!

Two vanloads of scouts and parents from Cub Scout Pack 45 crammed into our River Relief vans to head to Sun Bridge Conservation Area, where folks have been illegally dumping tires and trash for decades. With ropes and tow straps, they removed 76 tires and a full pickup and trailer-load of trash in just a couple hours.

On Friday, our trash scouting boats dropped some bags at a nearby homeless encampment, where they promised to pick up trash around their area. When we returned to haul trash on Saturday, there was a big stack of bags full of garbage…and a request for more bags! Home is where the heart is, they say, and there was a lot of heart in this little village.

St Joseph Clean up 2010
Karl Brooks and crew. Photo by Vicki Richmond

As a special treat, we all got to meet our Region 7 EPA Administrator Karl Brooks in the afternoon. He came out for the trash haul, to see all the work volunteers had done and help get it to shore. He immediately fit in - and saw the value of citizen cooperation in taking care of our environment. That's Karl there on the right, taking a break between trash sites.

Everyone gathered in the front yard of the Terrible’s Casino for lunch – served up in style by the casino staff. It was the nicest lunch we’ve ever had on a clean-up. Tables and chairs….are you kidding me? Towards the end of lunch, folks huddled around our pop-up tent for the trash contest, where the crowd votes on the most useful, most fashionable, weirdest and tackiest trash. Two kids, Nathaniel and Cody,  that stayed after lunch to haul away a dump they found along the Riverfront Trail won the “Down and Dirty” award – a special recognition for volunteers that put in the extra “oomph” to make it happen.

I have to add that one of the main reasons this clean-up went so well was the help of two local river rats Ken Reeder and John Wood. They both introduced us to the community, helped us find our way around and twisted the arms of the St. Joe powers-that-be to support this great community effort. Thanks you guys – you know we’ll be working together in the future.

Our River Relief traveling circus also owes a special debt to Phil and Maryanne Weaver and Dick DeShon for lending us their riverside paradise for the weekend. I can’t imagine a better place to pitch a tent and feast on a catfish dinner donated by Hy-Vee.

Thanks St. Joseph – See you on the river!

St Joseph Clean up 2010 trash haul
One of many boatloads of trash. Photo by Hana Kelenberger

St. Joseph Cleanup Results

Photo album on Flickr!

Total Volunteers: 166

  • Volunteers signed in: 278
  • River Relief Crew: 21
  • Boats: 13 (3 MRR boats; 5 MDC boats, 2 EPA, 3 local boaters)
  • River Miles Cleaned: 12 
  • River Stage: 14.7 feet (St. Joseph gage)
  • Landfill: 3 tons
  • Scrap Metal: 1.3 ton
  • Tires: 117 tires, 2.1 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 6.4 TONS

Groups Participating: Boehringer-Ingelheim, Buchanan County Juvenile Office, Missouri Western State University Wildlife Society, MWSU Alpha Phi Omega, Boy Scouts Troop 6, Boy Scout Troop 141 (Elwood, KS), Boy Scout Troop 45, Cub Scout Troop 45, Boy Scout Troop 10, Tiger Cub Pack 31, St. Joseph Audubon Society.

Fun Team Names: Awesome Sauce, Oxsures, Mickey Mouse Club, River Rats, Alligators, Alphas & Abbey, the Pirates!, Mo River Rats, Mud Diggers, Troop 6, Bad Asses, Snakes, Mo. Western U, River Rats, Speedy Turtles, Girl Power!

Event Sponsors

Cleanup programs like these would not be possible without our generous donors and sponsors.
Missouri American WaterMissouri Department of Conservation

Saint Joseph Port Authority

Terribles Casino

Boudreaux's Louisiana Seafood

Dick DeShon

John Wood

River R. Reeder Foundation

The Weaver Family  

Burns & McDonnellCity of St. JosephHy-VeeMissouri Stream TeamRemington Nature CenterSt. Joseph Convention & Visitor's BureauRegion 7 - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Trash Tally

289 bags of trash
117 tires
Countless plastic bottles and little pieces of Styrofoam
Many light bulbs
1 large innertube
6 plastic milk crates
11 large chunks of Styrofoam
7 chunks of plastic
1 cooler
8 5-gallon plastic buckets
2 cans of paint
2 5-gallon metal buckets
2 55-gallon metal drums
4 55-gallon plastic barrels
1 control panel from a dredge
1 ringer washer
Complete game of washers
3 fire extingishers
1 message in a bottle
1 duck decoy
1 planter made from a tire
1 plastic leg from a doll
1 lawn troll
Small refrigerator
1 brand new pair of boots
1 pair of boots a little worse for the wear…
1 silk scarf
1 stained glass cube
1 framed dolphin print
1 hand saw
1 electric shaver
1 very large propane tank
1 small propane tank
1 helium tank
1 toaster
Several computers and computer parts
1 microwave
1 screen door frame
1 set of venetian blinds
1 queen-size box-spring mattress
11 chairs
1 semi-truck mudflap
1 large Tupperware container
1 small TV
1 big-screen TV
11-foot hydraulic coupling hose
1 car bumper
1 car seat bench
1 car seat
1 truck bed liner
1 hide-a-bed frame
1 railroad angle bar
1 CCA wood beam
1 push broom
1 piece of chainlink fence
5 bags of moldy clothing
1 toy playhouse
1 toy parking garage
1 desk and the entire contents of a person’s office, including file cabinet, electronic goods, computer manuals, briefcase, a Bible and much, much more dumped along the Riverfront trail and covered with a tarp
5 blankets
1 record
25 pieces of assorted scrap metal
1 green buoy
1 rebar grate
1 metal ironing board
1 metal grill
1 metal tray
1 very large big metal sign
1 computer monitor
1 garden hose
5 torn, moldy tarps, one with the remains of an unidentifiable animal
Parts of 5 tents
20 tent poles
1 foam cushion
1 rake
1 kitchen sink
1 pool lining
1 plastic wash sink

Saint Joe Cleanup doll
       Photo by Vicki Richmond
Saint Joe Cleanup 2010
       Photo by John Wood
Saint Joe Cleanup2010 trash
       Photo by Steve Schnarr
Saint Joe Cleanup boat
       Photo by John Wood

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