October 8, 2009

Cleaning up the Capital!

Jefferson City Missouri River Clean-up
Carl R. Noren Access, North Jefferson City
September 19, 2009

text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Vicki Richmond, Melanie Cheney, Amy Meier, Rosanna Hernandez

We never know what the day of a clean-up will bring. For the Jefferson City clean-up, we had about 140 online signups, but as the day shook out, over 270 volunteers showed up. We had to order an additional 115 lunches, and Schulte’s Deli busted their butts to get them put together and delivered in about an hour and half!

Because of budget shortfalls and busy schedules, we had fewer agency boats helping us out this year: two USFWS boats, one MDC boat, and one boat from the University of Missouri. We can’t thank these folks enough for giving their Saturday morning to help us get people on the river and pick up trash! Patty Hermann and Colby Wrasse of the USFWS even came to help before heading to their co-worker (and clean-up veteran) Andy Plauck’s wedding. Graduate student Josh Lallaman from Mizzou stayed all day hauling trash. And all the Conservation agents in the area were busy except Todd Houk from Callaway County - so he came to help. Thanks everyone!

But as it turned out, three local boats showed up with friends and family to haul trash. All of the boats took out at least three groups of volunteers. Despite a jam up at the loading area, and a few crews that peeled off to clean-up by land, we got everyone out eventually.

Parking was tricky, but Indi Frank and Tim Nigh handled it beautifully. I doubt there have ever been so many cars parked there at Noren.

The floods of the past couple of years have created a really nice sandbar just downstream of the ramp, making for a nice, easy loading area for volunteers. A huge diversity of folks hopped into boats there, from our many repeat clean-up offenders (the Christensens, Phil Knocke, the Andrei family), to Phil Porter from Kansas City. Mark Templeton, the Director of DNR, showed up as well as the assistant manager for the Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Barbara Moran.

This time we did our “Git that Garbage” trash contest (although I misplaced the awards until the last minute). Several Eldon high school students won awards – most notably a group that got the “Biggest Trash Find” – a 300 gallon diesel fuel tank they rolled out of the woods! (See Americorps Clean Water volunteer Rosanna Hernandez’ great blog and photos of getting that thing out of there by clicking here http://mostreamteam.blogspot.com/2009/10/hello-from-south-central-mo-im-rosanna.html )

During lunch, our friend ‘Naked Dave” Bandy treated us to his mix of river rat tunes, and passed the mike onto “Dr. Chordate” Jeff Moran with his folksy mix of songs about science. “Like a Sturgeon”, for example…

The Eldon High School students, led by teacher Jen Wellman, have been doing clean-ups, tree plantings and education events with River Relief and the Big Muddy Refuge for several years. They are turning into quite a group of river rats!! They also stuck around for a water quality monitoring demonstration by Stream Team’s Sherry Fischer.

After lunch, Lynne Hooper led a group of die-hards in the recycling area. All the bagged trash from the day was brought by trailer to the site, where they dumped each bag and sorted for plastic, aluminum and glass. When all was said and done, they recycled .86 tons of glass, plastic and aluminum, with 3.05 tons going to the landfill. It’s a lot of back breaking work, but it feels good for everyone involved when all that usable stuff gets recycled. Special Thanks to Civic Recycling for being one of the few recyclers in the state to accept our river-ravaged recyclables! In addition, a ton of scrap metal and 50 tires got recycled.

Special thanks to the MANNRs (Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources) from Lincoln University for showing up in force and working so hard! They are becoming some of our most reliable mid-Missouri volunteers. Thanks to the Missouri American Water staff from both Jefferson City and St. Louis. They also bought cloth shopping bags for volunteers to take home. After picking up little pieces of plastic all morning, I think the point got across to all the volunteers!

And extra special thanks to our hard working crew of River Relief die-hards. These folks had put in a long week of schlepping, serving, cooking, boating and cleaning trash. Then they moved camp and did it all again! Without complaint! Special thanks to Rod Power, John Brady, Joe Engeln, Melanie Cheney, Jeff Barrow and the Kellenberger family. They had all worked most of the week on events and still came to the clean-up and busted butt again. Of course, everyone else worked at their real jobs as well, then showed up with smiles and energy for all. The river can’t thank you amazing people enough!!!!

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