March 10, 2008

Somebody ought to do something about that mess...

Mari-Osa Dump Clean-up
March 1-2, 2008
Mari-Osa MDC Public Boat Access on the Osage River

text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Lindsay Tempinson and Jen Courtney
for more details, visit our website: www.riverrelief.org
for a pdf results page, click here


What makes the perfect river clean-up?
Perfect weather.
You get a bunch of trash.
The boats all work.
You meet new people.
Your friends that live in the area come out to help.
There’s a bunch of local river rats that like what’s going on and make it their clean-up.
You see a flock of pelicans.
You have a nice place to stay on the riverside.

Luckily, on March 1-2, all that stuff happened! Was this the perfect clean-up?

What we did, with the help of 94 volunteers, was to take a massive chunk out of a decades-old dumpsite spilling into the Osage River just upstream of the Mari-Osa Delta. Crews spent a day and a half pulling 18.7 tons of junk from the base of that dump. We didn’t get it all, but I think the momentum to make it all disappear has begun.



Our friend, Jeff Finley of the US Fish and Wildlife service, pointed the dump out to us. His dad owns a house on the banks of the river just downstream of the mouth of the Maries and he’d driven his shoalrunner by that dump a hundred times. What he told me is that one day he drove by that dump thinking, “Somebody ought to do something about that,” when he realized…he knew just the right folks.

Once we started calling around, Skip Jenkins, who lives right down there too, let us know that not only would he help out, he had a bunch of folks called the “Osage River Navy” that were going to pitch in. Pretty soon, the Navy had us set up with a trailer headquarters (with an awning), came to our pre-clean-up pow-wow, gave us free ice, smoked us up a fine BBQ dinner, and even brought the leftovers for lunch the next day. Bob Woodward from the Osage Campground and More fixed our ailing 60 horse Mercury. A bunch of them hit the dumpsite all day Saturday and even came back for more on Sunday.

A lot of friends from other Stream Teams, the Department of Conservation, the Department of Natural Resources, the Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Guard, folks that’d helped on other clean-ups and family came out to help. At the last minute, Jarad Milligan from MDC brought a boat and hauled trash in its bow all morning. People who’d seen the dump for years and saw the clean-up in the paper came out. Folks whose grandparents used that dump came out.

One guy (who made me promise not to use his name) even remembered that when he was a teenager they’d go to the dump on Saturday morning and dump a truck full of junk off that bluff. Saturday night, he’d come back with his friends and a case of beer and throw their empties down on the pile.



As soon as we had a boat full of volunteers, they started tearing into the pile. The first boat full of appliances came rolling in to the ramp before the last boat of volunteers went out.



After a morning of hauling junk, we had to call in two more scrap metal dumpsters (thank you Harold from Galamba for working overtime bringing those out!) to hold the trash stash. We took a group photo in front of one brimming dumpster and headed out for more.

The nicest thing about a clean-up like this is at the end of the day, the people that did it can see a huge difference. The bottom of that dump pile melted away. They just made their river a better place and every time they go by it in a boat, they’ll remember it.

If only we had massage tables, it would have been the perfect clean-up.




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