The Clean Sweep: "Sunset Oasis"

"Sunset Oasis" - Shift 8 of the Big Muddy Clean Sweep

Franklin Island Boat Ramp and Camp 6 miles downstream - Thursday, 10/7 - Sunday, 10/10/2021

By Alyssa Thomas


  • 10/7- crew caravanned to Franklin Island boat ramp and set camp 6 miles downstream... beautiful sunset!
  • 10/8- shift crew joined us, scouted for community cleanup, dinner provided by Eileen!
  • 10/9- cleanup out of Franklin Island boat ramp, fishing tournament, new volunteers, heart-warming campfire talk with “pass the stick”
  • 10/10- scouting for TWO community cleanups out of Rocheport, some shift crew left, food from Katy! Stayed at same camp.

A jaw-dropping sunset that welcomed us to our last stretch of the Clean Sweep! It only got better as the sun went down. Photo by Kevin Tosie.

Shift Summary:

It’s the last stretch! I can attest for the whole Clean Sweep core crew that we don’t want to see this program come to an end. Its been an amazing experience and we’ve become family. 

We started the workload at the boat yard back in Columbia on Thursday (10/7) and caravanned to the Franklin Island river access right by Boonville. We found a great island 6 miles downstream of the boat ramp, and was an ideal location since our staging for the cleanups in Rocheport was just 2 miles downstream! As we set up camp, we were welcomed with a beautiful sunset.

Gretchen and Phoebe watching as a barge with a huge load floats by downstream. The barge honked back as we all waved! Photo by Alyssa Thomas.

The next day (10/8), we picked up the next shift and scouted for the community cleanup from the Franklin Island boat ramp. When we got back from scouting, we enjoyed a delicious and much needed meal brought by one of the shift crew members. Thank you, Eileen!! We hunkered down early to prepare for our early morning workload.

We left our camp by 7:15 Saturday (10/9) to set up for the Franklin Island community cleanup. We had a great turnout, and the boat ramp was busy in the best way! The locals were also putting in boats for a fishing tournament, and they were also very curious what MRR was up to. We received many thank you’s from the fishermen! Some even stood aside to listen to our orientation and safety briefing before we headed to the boats.

Cleanups are more than just picking up trash!

We also had a handful of volunteers brand new to MRR! These people had never been to a cleanup and signed up individually, looking to be apart of the mission. One had been particularly quiet, and a shift crew members, Melanie Knocke had started conversation on the boat. He told her that he had always wanted to come to a cleanup and was very excited, but when he finally got on the boat, he felt like the river was going to consume him. She chatted with him more, warming him up to feel more comfortable and feeling more respect for the river. This is what MRR is about, to connect people to the river!

One of our younger volunteers approached our Executive Director, Steve Schnarr, to chat about the cleanup. Colby (10), expresses how important our environmental stewardship is. I was sitting on a rock, eaves-dropping on the conversation. I quickly jotted down an impressive statement he made: "We need to protect the wildlife. They were here first. Then we came in and polluted it so we need to help clean it up." Turns out, I wasn't the only one listening! When Colby walked away, everyone who listened to him were in awe. This too, is what MRR is all about: to help people realize how important the Missouri River is. Children like Colby are the future!

That evening, we reminisced on all that we have accomplished and our favorites of the project. Everyone had a chance to speak their mind, passing around the talking stick, a broken paddle we found on the cleanup. Moments like the two interactions above were shared. This reassured each other that all we have done is much appreciated and important. The night was filled with laughter and maybe some tears—at least for me!

The next morning (10/10), we went out to scout for TWO community cleanups out of Rocheport. These cleanups were going to potentially be our biggest turnouts for all of the Clean Sweep project. This area is greatly affected by floods, so there was no problem finding high density accumulations. Since Rocheport was just downstream, right at the end of the bend, we didn’t have to move our camp! We said goodbye to our shift crew that evening. Last but not least, yet another food angel brought us food after a long day of work. Thank you, Katy!

Stretch Results:

  • Miles: mm 201 – mm 191 (10 miles)
  • Volunteers:
    • Shift crew: 9
    • 10/9 day crew: 1
    • 10/9 volunteers: 17
  • Trash:
    • Bags: 46
    • Tires: 12
    • Other finds: 4 mineral tubs, 5 5-gallon buckets, car dashboard, chair, child walker, futon, 25ft. barge cable, children's park climbing wall

Carol Leigh and Matt sitting by the fire, sharing a head lamp to work on their crafts! Photo by Kevin Tosie.

Crew Highlight - Steve Schnarr

Steve Schnarr is the Executive Director of Missouri River Relief. Since 2004, he's held many positions with MRR, including a volunteer and contract staff member. He has coordinated many clean-up events, planned and coordinated the 2006 MegaScout trash survey and served as Program Manager and Lower Reach Manager with MRR since 2006. He graduated with a B.S. in English from Drake University in 1995. He has done his best to help out where he can throughout the Big Muddy Clean Sweep! We appreciated all his help during the project, coming back and forth from office work and working on other big MRR events, like the Race to the Dome. Thank you for all that you do for MRR, Steve! Photo by Kevin Tosie.

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