April 15, 2007

Glasgow, MO, Clean-up - April 13-15, 2007

by Steve Schnarr
photos by Dory Colbert and Melanie Cheney

note: the Glasgow clean-up was supported financially by Pat Jones, the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers. Check out our website www.riverrelief.org for our large list of generous sponsors.

“Pay no attention to the man behind the Doppler”

Friday – April 13 – Set up Camp, Scout the River
Forecasts were for 2 inches of snow and subfreezing temperatures. Talk of flash flooding pierced the airwaves. Our crew (read: "family") of core volunteers gathered around a glowing fire at the end of Friday after scouting for trash on the river, setting up camp and gathering firewood. As the cloudy day slowly darkened, the first drops of rain were falling and we were all dreading a night of dealing with the elements.

So we headed into downtown Glasgow and sat in the “Red Room” at the old “Miss Kitty’s” (I’ve forgotten the new name – “Beckett’s”?) for a feast after an afternoon scouting trash on the chilly Big Muddy.

The excellent cook and waitresses dealt with our weird quirks with smiles, and we warmed our bellies before a cold night on the banks of the river.

After returning to Stump Island Park, we threw up a pop-up tent alongside the fire, giving us a chance to stay dry but keep warm together and catch up.

Saturday – April 14 – The Clean-up
There was no snow on the ground when we woke up. The rain was letting up and the fire kept the chill off. Cars and trucks started rolling in as volunteers from Glasgow, Boonville, Fayette and Columbia showed up despite the gnarly forecast. By the time the day was over, 46 volunteers came out to pitch in with our Missouri River clean-up.

Our friend, Sonny Shive, who we met at our 2004 clean-up, had already lined up our dumpsters and scrap metal haul (Violia Industries donated a dumpster, and Steve Gooch offered to take the scrap). Alternative Fuel Sources Inc. drove up a tractor-trailer to haul tires, since they would be back the following week to get tires in Fayette, just 13 miles away. ASF shreds tires for use in the Sibley Power Plant upstream near Fort Osage. The stuff is mixed and burned with coal, for a hotter, cleaner burn.

We held a pow-wow and decided we’d make the most impact if we stuck to the land for the morning, hitting a dumpsite near the little town of Lisbon. The spot is perched on the side of a creek that drains right through the Big Muddy Wildlife Refuge and into the Missouri. Two collapsed house trailers were host to a pile of trash that penetrated several feet underground. Scrap and trash were strewn around an abandoned school bus and was cascading into the creek below.

Like an “army of ants”, our volunteers spread about the site, instantly producing bags full of trash (old clothes, plastic, barbed wire, old, degraded tarps) and mounds of tires and scrap metal. After several trips hauling scrap, tires and trash in our 4x4 pickup, a small trailer and a couple of boats (we just pulled behind like trailers and filled them up).

The site had been a long time thorn in the side of the Big Muddy Wildlife Refuge, who had been working with Friends of Big Muddy to figure out a way to get the stuff out of there. We knew we could only make a dent in what was there, but we did get everything that was in imminent danger of tumbling into the beautiful creek below.

Little did we know, but a couple weeks before the Refuge had struck a deal with a local scrap hauler to dismantle the trailers and clean up the site. Only as we were hauling away the last of the loads did he figure out what we were doing and stopped us on the road. “Where are you going with my heavy metal?” he asked, seeing the payoff for his clean-up driving down the road.

He was understandably upset, but soon calmed down once he realized we had actually done him a favor by hauling away so much trash and tires. Unfortunately, he and a buddy had to send a truck and trailer up to Stump Island Park to haul back all the scrap we had taken already.

As we were cleaning up the dump, a group of Girl Scouts from Troop 955 arrived to clean-up the park. They each grabbed a trash bag and joined Jeff Barrow to clean-up. Like an easter egg hunt, the tough bunch of scouts scoured the park and hillsides, filling trash bags and even rolling a tire down the hill to the road.

Neighbor Tom Bentley grabbed a few bags and spent the day humping bags of trash up the riverbanks from the waterline and driftpiles below. Throughout the day, locals like Edna Blackwell and Larry Gilmore showed up to pitch in. Teri and Greg Liemkuehler showed up with a couple loads of firewood for our camp.

Saturday Afternoon - Back on the River
After a wonderful lunch prepared by Dyan Pursell and Vicki Richmond, we threw our boats in the water. After a day of hard, sweaty work, it was the perfect temperature for cleaning up on the river. Dave Stous, Eric Hempel and I headed directly across the river and immediately started filling up bags with plastic drift. Then…the shout, “Tire Dump! Bring the boat around!” By the time I swung the boat around below an abandoned barge, tires and piles of asphalt shingles began cascading down the sloped barge.

By the time we loaded the boat, we saw the other boats coming upstream, weighed down with barrels, a fridge, a steel water tank and bags of trash.

I also took a nice young couple of reporters from the Boonville Daily News out for their first trip on the river. We definitely had to check out the bald eagle nest just downsream, where one eagle perched on the nest while the other wheeled around above the river, checking out our boats.

Saturday evening - a gathering of friends
Our buddies Heidi and Jim showed up just in time to fix dinner. Salad, pork steaks and “Extreme Mac & Cheese” were on tap, with Sue’s delightful baked desserts to finish it off. As we settled around the fire, the sun peeked out briefly, warming us instantly. We settled in with glasses of hot spiced wine and flew some of the most dramatic foshees ever (interspersed with lots of pseudo-pirate talk). The only musical instruments anyone brought were a harmonica, a couple drums and some pots and pans from the kitchen but we made music anyway!

Sunday morning - oops
The theme for this clean-up could easily be: “There’s the plan, and then there’s what you actually end up doing.”

Our plan on Sunday morning was to zip a couple of boats downstream to Jameson Island to pick up mounds of trash left from a clean-up the previous week done by the Friends of Big Muddy.

What actually happened… as we awoke from our groggy post-clean-up sleep, the rumor began to spread around camp. “One of our boats is gone!” Instantly folks jumped to action. John Brady and Anthony Pettit hooked up the “Char” (our 60 horse Grizzly) and headed to Taylor’s landing to scout upstream. Racin’ Dave called up our old friend Captain Kirk to hit the sky in Captain’s Cessna to scout from air. The “Saskia” (our 90 horse plate boat) headed downstream. The boat was found about ten miles downstream, leisurely resting along a riprap bank. Following this fiasco, everybody hit the river again to go get the trash, with "Char" heading on down to trailer up in Rocheport.

A imperfect, but beautiful day on the river. The sun was out in full force, and the stress of the lost boat eventually dissolved and washed downstream, leaving us exhausted and ready for bed.

by steve schnarr

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Michael Doolan. I am 14 years old and come from New Zealand. My friends and I are trying to clean up our local river (the Hautapu) It would be great if you could visit my page and leave a comment!