November 14, 2014

2014 Trash Tally!

"I bet you find the craziest stuff in that river..."  


Yes we do.  If I had to pull out the 10 strangest things we pulled out of the river this year, they would be:

1.  A "Chicken Dance" Elmo Doll
2.  A plastic pair of Angel Wings
3.  A full sized Keg of Beer floating down the river (only the top 1/4 of it was above the water)
4.  1 full jug of Atrazine
5.  A Message in a Bottle from 1964, thrown in at "Jesse James Hideaway Cave"
6.  2 Cobbler's Shoes (found separately)
7.  A metal flower that had been welded together
8.  A giant Candle shaped & painted like a strawberry
9.  The body of an Electric Guitar
10.  1 plush "Newborn Chimp" covered in stick-tites

Gee, that was kind of hard to narrow down, between all of the other messages in bottles, decrepit baby doll parts and strange things we've found like a fiberglass boat from 1957.  I'll let you browse through the full trash tally below.  Enjoy!

Here's a sample of what volunteers hauled out of the Missouri River in 2014.  Special thanks to our trash archivist, aka Tally-Ho, Ruthie Moccia for diligently recording these lists.  Also, check out our 2014 "Trash Treasures" photo album!

1,309 bags of trash
128 bags of recylcables
564 tires
7 tons of scrap metal
12 refrigerators
3 chest freezers
111 chunks o’ Styrofoam
22 coolers
21 chairs
38 - 55-gal. plastic barrels
48 - 5-gal. plastic buckets
21 - 55 gal. metal drums (one with unknown chemical)
1 - 55 gal. barrel full of camping equipment
11 - 5-gal. metal buckets
23 plastic tubs
16 propane & freon tanks
4 water heaters
200 aerosol cans
21 TVs (does this include ramp cleanup?  Go back & check)
12 car headlights
1 microwave
53 light bulbs
1 florescent tube
7 duck decoys
1 goose decoy
2 mattresses
5 box springs
1 – 1000 gal. farm spray tank
5 messages in a bottle (one from 1964)
1 message on a ping pong ball
19mm handgun
1 Smoke Grenade Canister
1 1982 World's Fair plastic cup
1 stainless steel vegetable steamer
several railroad ceramic insulators
The bow of a canoe with the name painted “BLU BY U”
3 foot piece of plastic culvert
4 plastic milk crates
1 extenstion cord
1 vinyl record
2 cassette tapes
1 vhs tape - Professional Gun
1 ceramic heart that says "Connceted by Love, Guided by Faith"
2 watches
1 football helmet
1 dirty diaper
1  metal frame for stairway
1 air compressor
1 rubber canteen
1 softball owned by Gary Babetz
1 wooden table top
2 brass piano parts
1 coconut
1 water ski
1 tiny painting
1 ammo case from KC
1 styrofoam strawberry
1 serrated knife
1 Printer with Ink Cartridges strewn about
1 seed spreader
1 piece of a culvert
1 blue six sided die
2 railroad spikes
1 piece of an alien airship
1 old fm receiver
1 couch
2 couch frames
3 barge lines
1 fire extinquisher
1 top of a safe
1 - 1957 fiberglass Saber boat
1 buoy
1 metal trash can
1 pulley
1 chicken wire
1 tiny saw blade
1 lateral drain tile
1 wall to a Porta-Potti
2 PVC pipes
1 white picket fence
1 bookshelf
1 Iron Fence Pole
1 Molded Child’s Headboard (faux oak)
1 Plastic Horseshoe (red, life size)
1 dog kennel top
1 big plastic bowl for Clifford
1 men’s cologne box
1 newspaper mailbox
1 plastic shovel
1 swim pad
1 Serrated Hand Saw Blade
1 Wooden Cross with Memorial Nameplate (James Wynn, 10-16-49 to 6-8-97)
1 Metal Camping Dish with Cover
1 Air Horn Can (corroded)
1 Reflector
1 Decorator Icing Kit
1 Reflective KU Business Cup
1 Love Cologne Mist
1 Window with Metal Grate
2 tents
1 tent pole
2 Plastic Culvert Pipes (12-feet long 3-feet diameter)
1 Red Nun Buoy tied up at the USCG storage facility
1 Metal Sculpted Flower
1 Marble Cheese Plate
1 Giant Candle Shaped & Painted like a Strawberry
1 full can of Hairspray (volumizing)
1 French Press
1 Coffee Maker (20 cup)
1 Coffee Cup
1 3 Drawer Filing Cabinet
1 25 lb Barbell Weight
1 laptop case
1 Ear Plugs on a Rope
1 double sheet set
1 laughing gas mask
1 ice scraper
1 shopping cart
1 stainless steel kitche trash can
1 16” Ice Skate
2 Cobbler’s Shoes
3 plastic hair combs
2 hats
1 ruler from Sutherland Lumber Company of St. Joseph
1 wooden spool
1 decorative popcorn tin filled with trash
1 Swiss army knife
1 electric guitar
1 Crockpot Innards
1 Dish Drainer
1 Fork (stainless steel)
1 Dice
1 Metal  Loveseat (very nice)
1 Toothbrush (orange)
1 Army Canteen (dirty green)
1 Playing Card (2 of spades)
1 Moss Covered Tennis Shoe (Winner-Most Fashionable Trash)
1 Padded Bra (pink)
1 Nike Head Band
3 drink thermos'
1 Garden Watering Wand
3 Gardening Tools
1 Cat Carrier
1 Flood Light
1 Swiffer Mop handle
3 Feed Buckets
1 Washer Spin Drum
1 Compressor
1 Burner
2 Radio Vacuum Tubes
1 Toilet Float
1 Country Mailbox on Post
1 Wench Ratchet Strap
6 Curtain Rods
1 piece of a balloon from “Nebraska Environmental Association”
1 bottle of Aspirin
1 American Flag (on wooden pole)
1 Glow Stick (yellow)
4 refrigerator drawers
3 fridge doors
1 refrigerator defroster
2 cooler lids
1 Plastic Lawn Chair Seat
1 water jug
1 smashed up buoy
1 Metal Drum Lid (rusted)
1 55-Gallon Plastic Barrel Lid
1 Ring Clamp for 55-Gallon Metal Barrel
1 pair of safety glasses
1/2 of a chainsaw case
1 set of wheels to a stroller
1 giant tarp
1 Full Can of Beer (unopened, unreported brand)
1 full Pabst Blue Ribbon pull tab
1 large Beer Keg
1 box of wine, 8 oz, chardonnay (unopened new package)
1 upholstered chair cushion
1 kneeling pad
1 Back Rest Cushion (with arms)
4 orange floating booms
5 drain tile pieces
40 ft. of hose

Too Many to Count:
"single-use" plastic bottles, styrofoam cups & clamshells
misc. shoes & flip flops
1 swirling gyre full of stryofoam & plastic - now known as the kasnsas city "Trash Trap"
a million single-use plastic bottles
a gazillion balls to include 1 gold bowling ball
a ton of 6 pack rings, plastic wrappers, plastic eating utensils, plastic straws, 5-hour energy drink bottles, disposable lighters and chewing tobacco cans.
dozens of antique glass bottles

Marine Rubbish
2 fishing lures
4 fishing poles
2 wads o fishing line
8 bobbers
1 electric bilge pump
1 motor mount bracket
1 Boat Bumper
1 wire fish catch box
1 boat dock with 4 barrels
1 boat bow
1 minnow trap
1 Leinenkugel's beer bobber
1 jug of hydraulic oil
1 full Jug of Atrazine
1 5-gal. can with flammable liquid
abondoned ammonia tank (part of meth lab)
3 chemical jugs

1 Big Muddy Refuge Sign
2 Conservation Signs
1 directional road sign on post

Automobile Parts
2 Strips Car Trim
1 Velour Car Seat
1 Truck Windshield Wiper Base
1 Missouri License Plate (2010, ME VERA)
1 Car Bumper
1 Miniature Mack Truck Cab (metal, pink and blue)
1 plastic car part
1 Car Hood (midsize compact)
1 Exhaust Pipe
1 Truck Seat
1 600 lb Automotive Transformer
1 Car Jack
1 car door
1 oil pan
5 gas tanks
1 gas can
1 gas funnel

Construction Dumping
300 lbs Wet Ceiling Tile
15’ PVC Pipe
5 pieces of soggy carpet
1 Ceiling Fan Blade
1 large section of mobile home wall
5 corrugated tin strips
1 - 18’ culvert pipe
10 - 3’ pieces asbestos pipe
Nuts and Bolts (too numerous to count)
1 construction helmet
1 Metal Tub
1 Screen Door
2 Wooden Beams (bolted together)
1 window squeegee
1 large nail
1 4x4 Wooden Post
1 iron pipe rebar
1 trailer load of vinyl siding
2 broom handles
2 orange cones
15’ PVC Pipe
6 roof shingles
5 plank boards
1 pipe insulation cover
3 fence posts
1 12 ft. pipe
1 strip of culvert pipe
20' of barbed wire
14' of plastic covered cable wire
4 Sheets Plywood
5 Wooden 2’ x 4’s
4 Wooden 4’ x 6’s
1 Wooden Palette
2 Iron T Poles
23 Pieces Scrap Metal
110’ Steel Reinforced Conduit
12’ Steel Cable
15’ Farm Fence Wire (rusted)
14’ Steel Pipe
20’ PVC Pipe
20’ Iron Gas Pipe
61’  Plastic Pipe
2’ Ceramic Pipe
150 lbs Coated Copper Cable Wire
1 double kitchen sink still attached to the counter
1 Furnace Blower Pipe

Child's Toys
4 baby dolls (one headless, 2 armless)
4 baby doll heads
1 “Hello Kitty” Love Seat
2 plastic toy dogs
2 Rubber Duckies
1 plastic whale
1 Pair Angel Wings
2 baby rattles
1 Crocheted Baby Doll Dress
1 “Chicken Dance” Elmo Doll
1 Marshmallow Head
1 Child’s Snow Sled
1 Plastic Container “Fun Dough”
1 Miniature Plastic Hay Bale
1 Child’s Tractor (perfect condition)
1 Child’s Jeep (axle and wheels only)
1 Child’s 4-Wheeler
1/2 of a Skate Board
1 Plastic Zebra
1 Teddy Bear (dressed for town)
1 Plastic Water Gun
1 Nerf Dart
1 plastic apple
1 Baby Pacifier (shades of pink)
1 Child’s Slide
1 container of bubbles
1 Bubble Wand
1 plastic toy camera
1 foam letter "p or d"
1 torpedo (plastic)
2 green army guys
1 plush "newborn chimp"
1 Plastic Mustache (glow-in-the-dark)
1 Plastic Knife (looks real)
5 Markers
1 Plastic Mustache (glow-in-the-dark)
1 red Air Hockey piece
1 purple McDonald’s Toy
1 plastic Fire Extinguisher Toy
1 green plastic Sand Box Turtle Lid
1 plush "newborn chimp"
1 kids scooter
1 plastic apple
1 toy fire truck
1 plastic checker
1 plastic rabbit
1 plastic duck on wheels
1 easter egg
1 plastic penquin
1 wooden flower & bird
1 pink panther print on foam
1 kiddie push cart
1 kids plastic table
1 leather baby sandal
1 alphabet block (yellow)
1 studded football massage ball
1 pair of purple vampire teeth
1 yellow piggy bank
1 Plastic Happy Face Animal
1 plastic sand castle mold
1 baby bear rattle - 1984 Mattel Inc.
1 Plastic Dragonfly
1 toddlers toy car you ride on
1 sit & spin
1 railroad track section

Natural but noted:
1 Gar Skeleton
6 small animal skulls
1 gourd
1 hemp plant
1 terrarium in a glass bottle
1 shelf fungus
1 fishhead
2  Weird Bones
5 whole pumpkins (ready to carve)
1 Snapping Turtle Shell
1 Small Jaw Bone (species unknown)
1 dead american coot (headless)
1 hawk skeleton
1 turkey feather
several turtle shells

1 dead snake with plastic netting wrapped around it

photo by Brian Waldrop

September 24, 2014

Of Sharks and Cleaner Fish

by John Brady

Right now I am in recovery mode. I am home after some days on the Missouri River working with others to clean up the river valley and celebrate its noble presence in our lives. The last two days were a time of great effort for the volunteers and crew members of the Big Muddy Clean Sweep.

 We did all of our normal preparation for a large scale river cleanup plus helping set up and break down the structure for a River Festival. That work continues today and most likely tomorrow with dealing with all of the trash removed. I shall rejoin the effort in an hour or so.

But right now, between the loads of laundry, I have time to write a bit and reflect on the meaning and value of the events of yesterday. The cleanup was extraordinarily difficult, as recent flooding on the river made conditions a lot more of a challenge for our crew. As usual, they adapted and found ways to accept and deal with all of the problems that cropped up.

As I was piloting one of the work boats between running cleanup volunteers out to the sites they would clean, running up the wide and smooth river back to pick up another group, an image came to my mind about what we were doing out there. It seemed to me for a moment that today, the river was like a shark in the sea of our environment.

It has been living, evolving and constantly moving through its valley just as a shark roams the ocean, never stopping, always roaming on the move. It is hungry for some things, taking them into its belly in a thrashing feeding frenzy of flood. A river bank here, a fish camp there, it feeds indiscriminately for its time of need and then goes placid, a benign and serene beast, its awesome power hidden to the unknowing eye.

In the shark’s world, there has evolved a species of tiny fish that maintain their lives by cleaning the bodies of the larger fish, the sharks, tuna and other species of the deep ocean. The large fish lay still in their presence, almost in a trance as these cleaner fish remove dead skin, parasites and other things that attach themselves to them. The cleaners even swim into the sharks great open mouths, fearless of the awesome power within.

Today, the cleanup volunteers scrambling up its banks seem to me to be like the cleaner fish that attend the sharks in their shared realm, calmly tolerated by the mighty fish, cleansing and beautifying its body as they remove the parasites and vermin that infest its skin. In this symbiotic ritual, I can see how we mutually benefit each other. In return for the many gifts the river offers up not only to those that have no conception of how it enables our lives, but to these cleaner fish who give back to it the gift of loving care.

The image dissolves in an instant as I give the tiller a sharp jerk to avoid a just recognized floating log. I miss the log and almost tumble my crewman from his seat. He looks back startled for a moment and then realizes that I still have control and turns back to enjoy this brief respite from the hard part of our work today. I too, am back into the day, far richer for having in my consciousness this vision of my value to my beloved river.

As we, this crew of cleaners evolve into a group united by our love of and service to this great resource, the river runs as it always has, a beast of great power, unbelievable beauty and calm serenity. I realize again in this moment how blessed we are to have this day, this crew and this river.

September 23, 2014

“The Boonville River Cleanup and Festival Afterglow”

Joan Read and Jennifer Davis were our local Boonville rally team for our 2014 series of events, part of the Big Muddy Clean Sweep. They both worked the community up and down to raise support, funding and volunteers from the community for our Boonville River Festival and Missouri River Cleanup. Joan writes a weekly column for the Boonville Daily News. She shared this article with us that will be published this Friday.

Thank you for everything Joan!

Here's her article -

“The Boonville River Cleanup and Festival Afterglow”
by Joan Read to be published in the Boonville Daily News - Sept. 28

Many of my friends now talk about “pulling a Joan” when they mine recyclables out of trash cans or pick up litter.  While some say I’m dedicated, or perhaps eccentric, my efforts now seem quite small compared to Missouri River Relief!

They floated into town on Tuesday and set up camp at Franklin Island Conservation Area.  The clean-up last weekend was especially challenging. We were at flood stage until Wednesday and the river dropped seven feet by Saturday! Scouting and identifying points of entry was difficult.  They boated up and down the river both Thursday and Friday assessing, and then reassessing bank access given all the mud and another foot drop by Saturday morning.   

As the week progressed, more and more core volunteers joined MRR’s team. Each evening after dinner, we formed a circle around the camp fire strategizing for the next day’s activities. Friday evening’s session was fascinating. After the huge list of tasks were assigned, the group sprung into action.  Timeline – The cook starts preparing breakfast at 5:00 am, boat launchers are to start putting five boats in the river by 7:00 am or earlier, and starting at 8:30 am all volunteers are to be registered, dropped off, picked up and returned by noon so they can head over to the Festival.

Saturday morning came early.  During the busy festival set-up, each time I heard a boat motor by the Isle of Capri parking lot I laughed. I knew the boat landing was buzzing amid activity and many volunteers were experiencing the river by boat for their first time! I laughed again when volunteers started showing up at the festival, wearing their muddy t-shirts and boots like a badge of honor!  Stories abounded and trash contest items appeared - 200 Volunteers!!!  The educational booths, kid activities, art car and truck, youth art, vegetarian wrap, and music were all wonderful!  Too soon, it was all over. It was surreal as I wandered around the parking lot in a daze.  As I searched for litter, savoring the memories, I was amazed.  I only found a partial handful of litter!

I again joined the crew and mosquitoes around the campfire that night. Each in turn shared their highlights of the day.  They were impressed with the turnout, festival and loved Boonville! I eagerly listened to their highlights during the clean-up. I could clearly visualize one volunteer searching for a 2x4 in the woods which was used to pry out a submerged metal love seat and another person laboring as she rolled a tractor tire ¼ mile to enter in the trash contest.  The crew found their strategically placed pallets did effectively get people up on the bank safely, but weren’t anticipating the slippery slide propelling volunteers back into the boat – still they kept everybody safe!  The stories were mesmerizing. When it was my turn, I shared my highlights while expressing my admiration and sincere gratitude for all their efforts.

As time allows, our activities will be updated on their website -  While you are checking out our photos and trash tallies under “past clean-up events”, consider a donation – As individuals and a river town, we need to keep these devoted River Stewards afloat!!