The Clean Sweep: "So...Many...Straws!"

"So...Many...Straws!" - Shift 2 of the Big Muddy Clean Sweep

Sibley/Fort Osage and Camp @ Alligator Cove - Wednesday, 8/25 - Monday, 8/30/2021

By Alyssa Thomas


  • 8/25- Moving from "Roger's Point" sandbar to Alligator Cove, watching barges go by/ sand dredge half a mile downstream from camp
  • 8/26-8/27- Crew cleanups on rack piles on 
  • 8/28- 7 crew joined us for the day to help with cleanup and feed us!
  • 8/29- trash haul and picked up big items
  • 8/30- moved downstream towards Lexington

Shift Summary:

After baking in the sun for several days, it was so great to arrive at Alligator Cove, thanks to our board member, Bill Fessler! This amazing little oasis has one of the best views of the river and all the shade we need. At sunset, the logs that float in from the current into the eddy look like alligators swimming around in the water, hence the nickname. A sand dredge was moored just downstream, providing us a front-row seat to watch barges go back and forth. We called this home from September 25-30.

The first day on the shift (8/25), we moved our fleet and belongings to Alligator Cove, scouting the river for trash along the way. Over the next two days (8/26-8/27), we went back to those areas and found overwhelming trash traps full of cups, oil bottles, and straws. So. Many. Straws. Our crew worked many hours each day to pull out as much garbage as we could. After cleaning up on Friday (8/27), we brought our haul to the dumpster at the Sibley Boat Ramp and prepped our boats for our community cleanup the next day. As a crew of 6, we collected 70 bags of trash!

On Saturday (8/28), we had 7 additional crew volunteers join us for the cleanup lightening the load and even bringing us amazing food! Thank you, Melanie, Kris and Doris for the tasty treats! 16 volunteers showed up at 9:00 am, including 7 from Bass Pro Shops. 3 boats went out with volunteers to pick up trash along the river from mile marker 340.5-337.5. After the cleanup we enjoyed a lazy afternoon of recovery before doing another small cleanup and hauling all the trash to Sibley once again. 

On Sunday (8/29), the crew went out yet again to cleanup a couple locations that we weren't able to get to with the volunteers. This time, we brought a canoe that Matt Britt had brought with him so that we could easily reach the floating trash. After we were done, we did a grand haul, totaling at 44 bags!

Adding up our efforts throughout this stretch, we collected 114 bags of trash, 10 tires of various sizes, 12 5-gallon buckets, 3 coolers, a refrigerator, deep cooler, and even a water bed! We are constantly surprised at what we find on the river. Now our crew is cleaning and packing up our gear, preparing for a bitter-sweet goodbye to Alligator Cove as we move on down to Lexington.

Stretch Results:

  • Miles: mm 346 - 335 (11 miles)
  • Volunteers:
    • Shift crew: 9
  • Trash:
    • Bags: 114
    • Tires: 10
    • Refrigerators: 2
    • Other finds: mini fridge, 3 trash cans, large plastic pallet, over 500 straws, plastic tubs, inflatable kayak, 2 orange road barriers, 20 ft. plastic pipe, 2 pool noodles, waterbed

The sweet shade of Alligator Cove. Photo by Melanie Cheney.

Crew Highlight- Matt Britt

Matt Britt is one of the Clean Sweep Core Crew from Boonville, MO.  He has been a Missouri River Relief volunteer for years, but also has a hobby of paddling local creeks and picking up trash. He knows a lot about Native American artifacts and can spot one a mile away! He has paddled in the MR340 and Race to the Dome. He even brought one of his canoes with on the Clean Sweep! Although he's a an extremely experienced paddler, he is in the works of receiving his boat operating title for MRR! Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

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