Sugar Creek Missouri River Cleanup 2024

Tons of Trash
Tons of Tires

LaBenite Park, Sugar Creek, Missouri
Saturday, April 13, 2024

It was a beautiful day on the river for our cleanup in Sugar Creek! 198 volunteers joined us at LaBenite Park on Saturday, April 13 to aid in our efforts to remove tons of trash from the banks of the Missouri River. We also hosted our title sponsors, Evergy, for a day of stewardship out of Cooley Lake Conservation Area on Thursday, April 11. In all, we managed to remove 7 TONS of trash from over 18 miles of river with the help of 269 volunteers!

Boy Scout Troop 1391 heading out on the river! Photo by Steve Schnarr.

Our volunteer crew and event staff headed out early Wednesday to set up our camp headquarters and prepare for our Thursday cleanup with Evergy. We scouted an 8-mile reach of the Missouri River out of the Cooley Lake Conservation Area river access, where we unfortunately found plenty of trash.

Thursday morning, 25 volunteers from Evergy joined us for a jam-packed day on the Missouri River. Each boat headed out to their first site for a couple hours, collecting loads of trash. Boats returned to the ramp access for lunch, then headed right back out to cleanup another set of sites and haul all the trash we collected off the Missouri River. We managed to almost fill a 30-cubic yard dumpster with over 2 TONS of trash! It is always a pleasure working with Evergy, and a big thank you for supporting our efforts in the Kansas City metropolitan area!

Evergy Green Team out on the river for a day of stewardship. Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

Friday is trash scout day for the big cleanup! MRR crew headed out on the Missouri River to search a 10-mile reach of river bank for sites to send the volunteers joining us the next day. When deemed a trashy and overall safe site for volunteers, the crew marks and notes the site for the dispatch team. This reach of river is no stranger to trash, as the Blue River joins the Missouri River just 6 miles upstream and drains much of downtown Kansas City.

MRR Crew taking a lunch break on a sandbar during the trash scout. Photo by Barb Elmore.

Saturday morning, 198 volunteers checked in at registration to join us for a day of stewardship! It was a very warm day, but nothing a little boat AC can’t fix! Boat operators from the Missouri Department of Conservation and a team from the Sugar Creek Fire Department helped ferry volunteer groups to their trash sites. Volunteers enjoyed lunch along the river after a couple hours cleaning up the riverbank. The park was filled with cheering and laughter during the MRR Trash Contest, where winners from each category win a prize for their best trash finds! Volunteers also had the opportunity to earn their Missouri River Explorer Badge and learn new ways they can reduce their single use plastic in their home and daily life through MRR’s new Clean Rivers Start at Home program.

Volunteers enjoying lunch and watching the trash contest. Photo by Lara Cox.

After lunch and all the activities concluded, MRR crew headed back out on the river to haul all the trash collected. We had our roll-off dumpsters ready to be filled back at the boat ramp, with special thanks to GFL Environmental for donating all of the dumpsters at the program! Another big thank you goes out to the City of Sugar Creek for helping us haul the trash up the ramp with a front end loader!

City of Sugar Creek helped pull trash up the boat ramp into the 40-cubic yard dumpster. Photo by Kevin Tosie.

A total of 264 trash bags were collected, with total weight at nearly 5 TONS of trash. As the trash rolled in, our partners from Missouri River Bird Observatory audited a portion of the trash. This brand audit was conducted for a larger data set called Break Free From Plastics, where the results are used to identify the world’s top polluting corporations.

Thank you so much to all our volunteers, partners, and sponsors who made these efforts possible.

Check out our trash tally from both cleanups below!

Full 40-cubic yard dumpster after the Saturday cleanup, donated by GFL Environmental. Photo by Kevin Tosie.

Cooley Lake Conservation Area Trash Tally

117 bags of trash
7 tires with rim
2 tires w/o rim
1 truck tire with rim
5 55-gal plastic drums
Laundry hamper
1 canoe
1 fender
small culvert pipe
2 plastic tubs
tool box
25ft of metal line/wire
2 5-gal buckets
stack of illicit photos
2 car seat frames
3 metal chair frames
plastic truck bumper and fenders
50-ft plastic coated metal coil conduit
1 bedframe

LaBenite Park Trash Tally

264 bags of trash
3 tires w/out rims
4 tires with rims
1 bicycle tire
3 strips truck tire tread
6 steel radial tire belts
1 car muffler with catalytic converter attached
2 sets bedsprings
8 5-gallon plastic buckets
5 55-gal plastic barrels
1 1-gal paint can
1 1-gal hazardous liquid in metal can
1 20-gal metal drum
1 propane tank
1 55-gal Rubbermaid tub
1 20-gal plastic tub
5 10-gal plastic trash cans
1 laundry basket (blue plastic weave)
2 milk crates
1 tool case
1 5-gal Culligan water bottle
1 gallon jug expired milk
3 Core Mark Iowa lidded crates
1 2’x4’ Pepsi pallet
1 large gas cylinder petroleum tank
1 air compressor
1 air compressor tank
1 sump pump
1 pool ladder
1 green children’s park slide
1 pulley
1 staircase pillar
4 bridge splice plates
4 buckets of metal scraps
1 15’ length flat iron
1 30” length coated stainless steel cable
1 hunk braided cable wire
1 12’ length lawn edging
1 25’x8” corrugated pipe
7 black PVC pipes
3 wooden spool sides
4 Styrofoam chunks
1 motor filter
1 wheel bearing cap
1 pipe clamp
2 antique irons
1 iron hatchet head
1 iron hammer head
1 sign (“KCMO Birmingham Water Treatment, Permit #0049531, Effluent Out Fall #1”)
2 sandwich board road block signs
1 boat seat
1 Baretta boat chunk
1 truck grill
1 boat headlight
1 car bumper
1 ottoman
1 leather chair
1 rubber mat
1 smoker
1 dish drainer
1 outdoor space heater
1 metal heater casing
1 mini fridge
1 freezer door
1 refrigerator door
1 ball bat
1 metal water bottle
32 balls
1 Nike shoe
1 blue plastic child’s chair
1 doll in Mexican dress, very big eyes, good hair
1 charred toy cow
5 coolers
assorted animal bones
wood scraps
1 bobber in a bottle
1 Roku TV plastered with bullet holes

LaBenite Cleanup Results

Total Volunteers: 234

  • Volunteers signed in: 198
  • River Relief Crew: 36
  • Boats: 8 (5 MRR | 3 MDC | 1 Sugar Creek FD)
  • River Miles Cleaned: 10.7 (MM358.2– MM 347.5)
  • River Stage: 10.3-ft. @ Kansas City
  • Landfill: 4.62 tons
  • Scrap Metal: N/A
  • Tires: 7 - 0.11 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 4.73

Groups Participating: Northland Innovation Center- SAGE, Kansas City Art Institute, Boy Scout Troop 1391, Van Horn High School, Evergy

Fun Team Names: Dancing Turtles, Paddle KC, KC NIC, Galloping Gators, Troop 391- A, River Gals, Trash Talkers, NCC, Hot Cross Bunce, Turkey River, KCAI’s Finest, Wilderness Gang, The BEST, Fantastic 5, The Otters, Trampling Turtles, Bunch of Scouts, River Heads, Fabulous Falcons

Cooley Lake Cleanup Results

Total Volunteers: 35

  • Volunteers signed in: 25
  • River Relief Crew: 10
  • Boats: 5 MRR
  • River Miles Cleaned: 8 (MM346 – MM 338)
  • River Stage: 10.3-ft. @ Kansas City
  • Landfill: 2.05 tons
  • Scrap Metal: N/A
  • Tires: 10 - 0.17 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 2.22

Groups Participating: Evergy Green Team

"Captain" Event Sponsors


"Pilot" Event Sponsor

Veterans United FoundationBells Brewery

"Engineer" Event Sponsor

Missouri Department of Conservation

"Deckhand" Event Sponsor

In-Kind Sponsors

Event Partners

Sugar Creek Missouri

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