Weldon Spring Missouri River Cleanup 2023

Tons of Trash
Tons of Tires

Weldon Spring CA - Weldon Spring, Missouri
Saturday, September 16th, 2023

We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout for our cleanup at Weldon Spring Conservation Area. 172 volunteers joined us early Saturday morning to remove tons of trash from the Missouri River’s banks. We also hosted a cleanup out of Klondike Park on Monday with Spire, our Title Sponsors. 24 Spire employees joined us in this effort. In all, we removed over 5 TONS of trash from 18 miles of river with 201 volunteers!

Volunteers power-posing before heading out on the river! Photo by Lara Cox

The MRR caravan team made their way to the Weldon Spring Conservation Area with our boat fleet on Wednesday morning and got to prepping our crew camp scene upon arrival. The Weldon Spring CA staff made sure we had space to work with, laying down sunflowers that were eventually mowed down in time for our program. Thank you to the awesome team at Weldon Spring CA!

More crew joined us Thursday afternoon, where we splashed our boats and prepared for our Big Muddy Sunset Excursion, where we invite our sponsors, partners, and friends who helped make this cleanup possible for an evening cruise on the Missouri River.

Lots of fun river stories shared by our partners and sponsors on the sunset excursion. Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

Friday was our trash scout! Our crew set out in two boats to search the banks for areas of high-density trash and site hazards for our volunteers that join us on Saturday. The scouters were realizing that this reach of the river was less abundant of trash. This is a good thing! Our scout team marked all possibilities that were safe to send volunteers, including the beautiful sandbars in the area. Beyond removing trash, we want volunteers to return with a better picture of the Missouri River.

Locations are marked on large maps to dispatch locations to our boat operators the next day. Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

134 general volunteers and 38 crew volunteers joined us bright and early Saturday morning! The week’s forecast had been great, and Saturday’s weather was a cherry on top. An overcast sky stayed around for the day’s hard work, which gave us a cooler cleanup. The day’s effort totaled to about 2.5 tons of trash removed from 10 miles of the Missouri River.

As volunteers returned to the boat ramp, they stuck around to enjoy lunch, participate in our lively trash contest, and obtain their Missouri River Explorer Badge. We were joined by our favorite coffee roasters, Mississippi Mud Coffee who handed out free samples to all of the volunteers. We also launched our new education program, Clean Rivers Start at Home, where volunteers learn about how they can stop the flow of trash into the Missouri River. Thank you to all the volunteers who joined us on Saturday!

Our friends from the Missouri River Bird Observatory arrived to conduct a brand audit on the trash we collected from the river. To the best of their ability, they spent a few hours sorting through a portion of the river trash to track the origin and type of each trash fragment. The data gathered goes into a larger report to identify the world's top polluting corporations - Click here for more information. Thank you to MRBO for leading this important effort.

Sunday, we took down our main camp and most of the crew headed home. Only 9 staff and crew were remaining. The group set out that afternoon to scout the river in preparations for our cleanup with Spire the next day. With the river being so low, some of the trash spots were beyond high banks or on driftwood piles.

Monday morning, we were joined by 24 employees from Spire, and boy, were they were ready to work! We set out in the morning to their first sites, then returned to Klondike Park access to take a well-deserved break and refueling with lunch. The teams set back out to the second sites of the day. They removed another 2.5 tons of trash from 8 miles of Missouri River bank. Thank you Spire!

Thank you Spire for your service to our watershed! Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

Our staff and crew took one more trip out to the trash sites to pick up the collected trash and haul it to our dumpsters downstream at Weldon Spring Conservation Area. Both of our dumpsters were donated by Republic Services. Thank you to Republic Services for aiding in our effort! After the haul, we trailered our boats, took down the rest of camp, and the caravan team set out that evening back to Columbia, MO. Monday was a long, successful day! Thank you to our volunteer crew who helped with Monday’s effort!

Check out our trash tally from both cleanups below!

Two 40 cubic yard dumpsters were donated for our Missouri River cleanup efforts. Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

Trash Tally:

Weldon Spring Conservation Area
109 bags of trash
5 tires with rim
6 tires w/o rim
21 rusty pipes
1 beam
55- gal metal drum
1 metal roofing slate
1 metal bumper
150 lb. old bridge piece from Daniel Boone bridge
3 55-gal plastic drums
11 25-gal plastic tubs
6 large chunks of Styrofoam
1 refrigerator
1 small shelter roof
1 55-gal fish barrel
18 ft. boat
1 buoy
2 plastic chairs
1 metal bucket
Motorcycle gas tank
2 propane tanks
Weed sprayer
2 5-gal buckets
1 painted wood piece with nails
2 carpets
1 window pane
orange fencing rolled up
culvert pipe
floor mat
1 3 ft. PVC pipe
Pool slide
Hunting blinds
Folding lawn chair
Pirate booty
Numerous sports balls
Lightning mcqueen – toy racecar
Fishing bobbers

Klondike Park
102 bags of trash
33 tires w/ rims
1 tractor tire
2 55-gal barrel
3 half 55 gallon plastic barrel
50 feet barge rope
Plastic deck chair
3 coolers
1/2 of water heater
14 mineral tubs
5-gallon flower pot
Cat litter box
1 big H2O jug
1 baby bathtub
1 turtle sandbox
1 black comingled pipe
1 bucket
1 large trashcan
3 large chunks of Styrofoam
4 lawn chairs
Soccer ball
Fridge door
Rubber maid tub
8x6 plywood

Weldon Spring Cleanup Results


Total Volunteers: 172

  • Volunteers signed in: 134
  • River Relief Crew: 38
  • Boats: 10 (4 MRR | 3 MDC | 2 Beasley Fish Co. | 1 Stream Team 211)
  • River Miles Cleaned: 10 (MM53– MM 43)
  • River Stage: 1.4-ft. @ Washington Gauge
  • Landfill: 1.91 tons
  • Scrap Metal: .5 tons
  • Tires: 12 - 0.19 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 2.6

Groups Participating: Stream Team 211 and 5168- League of Watershed Guardians, Biomerieux, Bank of America, Community Living, ACA Cricket Academy, Brentwood HS NHS

Fun Team Names: River Rats, Carp Killers 2: Carpe Diem, Gateway Trash Pirates, ACA, Tiger Team, River Storms, Trash Destroyers, RiseandSwine.com, Triple R, Trash Pandas, Flying Catfish, Mudbugs, Riparian Rescue, Superman!

Klondike Cleanup Results

Photo album on Flickr

Total Volunteers: 29

  • Volunteers signed in: 24
  • River Relief Crew: 5
  • Boats: 3
  • River Miles Cleaned: 8 (MM 60 – MM 52)
  • River Stage: 1.4-ft. @ Washington Gauge
  • Landfill: 1.79 tons
  • Tires: 34 - .63 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 2.42 tons

Groups Participating: Spire Serves

Clean Rivers Start at Home

“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.  

A Big Muddy Thank You To Our Event Sponsors:

Title Event Sponsors

Rio Vista Foundation

"Pilot" Event Sponsor

Bass Pro Cabelas Outdoor Fund

"Engineer" Event Sponsor

Athletic Brewing CompanyMissouri Department of ConservationSt James WineryPublic House Brewing

"Deckhand" Event Sponsor

Dance for Your Rights

In-Kind Sponsors

Mississippi Mud Coffee

Event Partners

Stream Team 211

Ready for Action?

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