March 17, 2009

More Mari-Osa March Madness

Mari-Osa Dump Clean-up, Part 2
March 7, 2009
Mari-Osa MDC River Access, Osage River
text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Emily Kunz, Dylan Lehrbaum & Richard Levell

check out our Mari-Osa Results page

First of all, here's our results statistics from this outrageous clean-up. Then, a few stories from the day. Thank you so much to all of you that came to help out.

Total Volunteers: 162
MRR Crew: 29
Boats: 8 (4 Missouri River Relief, 2 US Fish & Wildlife, 1 Missouri Dept. of Conservation and 1 Osage River Rats Stream Team)
Stream Teams: 1875, 1876, 3784, 3526
Rivermiles: 3
River level: 3.8 feet (St. Thomas gage)
Scrap Tons: 6.5
Landfill Tons: 3.3
Tires: 212 (3.3 tons)
Total Tonnage: 13.1

Names of River Teams: The Osage River Rats, the Sand Pipers, MANNRS-Lincoln University, the Hard Core Group, Corona, the Scallywags, Team of G, the Mohawks, the Elite 8, the J-Byrds, the Cardinals, the Christenburgs, the Fylan Troup

Clean-ups like this are such a convergence of interesting people with their own interesting stories. There were 162 different stories from the day, and I could only see a few. Just wanted to point out a few of them....

The Most Amazing Group of Volunteers Ever!
The night after the clean-up, our crew gathered around a campfire for a "pass the feather" about how the day went. Everyone was AMAZED at the quality of volunteers that worked that day. There were some folks that worked on the dump all day long, tirelessly filling trash can after trash can working on the steep hillside. At many of our big clean-ups, there are a large percentage of people looking for a nice morning on the river - which is great. But this was a different group of people all together. People were chomping at the bit to get back out there after lunch. No one was daunted by these seemingly impossible tasks we had set out for ourselves. It was one of the most inspiring days of my life. THANK YOU!!!!

The Trash Flume
I've posted a story elsewhere about how this came about. But suffice it to say, this was one cool addition to the show, allowing us to speedily and safely move TONS of trash down a steep hill, saving many backs in the process. Thanks to Captain Breyfogle for being the brains and brawn behind making this happen. And thanks to Rod Power for being the willing screwdriver behind the endeavor. Check out the You-Tube video, filmed by Jim Karpowicz.

The Tire Pile
Located just upstream of the 50/63 bridge, this was actually a bank stabilization project from days long past. There used to be a cabin perched above here, but the cabin is now gone and the landowner gave us permission to remove these unsightly tires. Last year we decided not to put too much energy into this, so this year it was a major goal. We put Jen Courtney and WT Bryan in charge of a group of super-hard-working Lincoln U students from the group MANNRS (Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences). It was not an easy task. The tires were filled with rocks and trash that had to be cleaned out so they could be recycled.
Also...major thanks to Jim Salmons and his son Jim for dealing with this crazy batch of tires.

The Wire Pile
The Boehm family has farmed along the Osage
River for generations. Past generations had dumped old scrap metal along the banks, hoping to keep the bank from eroding. Most of this was rolls and rolls of barbed wire and old fencing. We approached the current landowner, Clarence Boehm about removing this at our clean-up. He was happy to let us do this, and even came down to cut some trees and brush out of the way for us. This was a very difficult spot to clean-up - wire is just not fun to deal with. But this hardcore crew busted it out!

The Osage River Navy
This is a group of boaters and partiers that live near the Mari-Osa Delta. They have all been extremely appreciative of the clean-up efforts and over the past two years many have come out to help. From Bob Woodward, who lent us his trailer and hosted a BBQ for us in the evening, to British Bob Abery, who oversaw the dumpsters, to Skip Jenkins who posted fliers for us, to Jim Cooper who smoked up a fine BBQ dinner for our crew, these are a bunch of amazing men and women who love the Osage River and are glad to see it get cleaned up. Viva la Navy!

The Sinking Suburban Incident (Right Place, Right Time, Tools for the Job)
Often on river clean-ups something completely unrelated to the clean-up happens that requires immediate attention. Last year in Sioux City it was a massive boat dock that was careening down the Big Sioux River. Our boats were already in the water hauling trash, so they detoured up the Big Sioux to catch and stabilize the dock.
This year, at the Mari-Osa, we had an incident take place right next to us on the boat ramp. A boater with his two sons was trying to trailer his boat when the cable unspooled, leaving the boat drifting out in the river. The older son took the wheel, but apparantly was in neutral instead of drive - the Suburban quickly started rolling down the ramp into the river. We were unloading trash right next to them and jumped to action.
One of us jumped in the water, made sure both boys were stable and the Suburban (which had by now stalled) was in park. Jeff Barrow waded out and tied a rope to the front bumper while Indi Frank dumped his load of junk and brought the skid steer into position above the sinking suburban. They tied off the Suburban and started to pull it out of the water. By the time the bumper emerged, it seemed that the rope might break. Others had run up the hill to retrieve a chain and we hooked onto the skid steer with that.
Indi pulled the rig with it's trailer up the ramp to safety. No one was hurt.
Right place, right time, tools for the job.
(photo by Richard Levell)

Our boat drivers
In addition to our crew of four boats, we often rely on agency boat drivers to come help us haul volunteers and trash. This stuff is impossible without them, and for the past 8 years many of these biologists, agents and rangers have come again and again to help us with our mission of cleaning up the Missouri River.
This time we were lucky to have Mark Haviland and Pat Masek, MDC conservation agents for Cole and Osage Counties, bring a boat. They know the Osage as well as anyone, and they worked their butts off all afternoon, with the help of MDC employee Phil Pitts.
We were also joined by US Fish & Wildlife fisheries biologists Patty Herman and Colby Wrasse. These two are old clean-up pros, and they made amazing things happen at the Mari-Osa.
A special treat - a group of locals just started up a Stream Team upstream on the Osage called the Osage River Rats. They brought their little boat and hauled trash all day.
Thanks to all of you!!!!!

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