Missouri River Relief, a community volunteer organization, hosted a large-scale clean up of the Missouri River on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Over 250 volunteers met to remove trash from a 10-mile stretch of the Missouri River and parts of the smaller Lamine River.
The effort marked the first time the organization transported crews using both canoes and motorboats. Event organizer Jenn Davis says they use canoes to reach smaller creeks and streams.
“A lot of the places where we find the trash are places that are inaccessible by motor boats, and it's because sometimes those bodies of water are more shallow or they're just difficult to reach,” she says.
Crews removed 178 bags of trash from both river cleanups. Of that, 572 pounds were recyclable materials.
Paul Davis, Jenn Davis’s father, has volunteered multiple times since his daughter got involved with Missouri River Relief. He says he’s too old to climb around on the steep banks that line the river, but he’s glad that many of the volunteers were young.
“Being near the University of Missouri and all the colleges in Columbia … it’s not too difficult to draw from the young people that are interested in cleaning up the environment,” he says.
He used to work on a commercial farm located near one of the clean up sites when he was a teenager.
“There was a lot of trash on the riverbank that had been deposited by various floods over the years and there never had been any effort to clean it up,” he says. “It’s remarkable how clean that riverbank is now compared to what I remember back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
Jenn Davis says that crews collected a lot of unusual trash items.
“An entire dishwasher, two televisions, 17 tires … a whole broken plastic canoe, a bowling pin, 16 lightbulbs of all types and varieties and sizes,” she says. “We found 48 sports balls – including a high school soccer ball from Blue Valley, Kansas, a floating pumpkin, a rubber chicken, a Lego man, and a tiny spaceship.”
She believes that there was less trash this time than in pervious years.
“If that’s any indication, I would say that things are looking a lot better and people are being better stewards of the river and of the watersheds,” she says.