October 6, 2009

Sustain Mizzou Clean-up!

California Island Campout and Providence Bend Clean-up with Sustain Mizzou
Plowboy Bend and Eagle Bluffs Conservation Areas
September 11 & 12, 2009
Text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Tina Casagrand, Steve Schnarr, Billy Froeschner and Rod Power

(blogmaster’s note: for another perspective, check out Sustain Mizzou member Tina Casagrand’s blog, “We Call Upon the Author” . Also check out our flickr photo file from the event.)

We kicked off River Camp with a campout and clean-up with the hardworking students from Sustain Mizzou. This is a student-run organization that focuses on increasing sustainability on the Mizzou campus. A few of their many projects include an organic garden on campus, promoting recycling throughout the campus, cleaning up trash after tailgating parties and working on composting in campus kitchen facilities.

It all started when we received a newsletter from our board member Jan Weaver, who is also a faculty advisor for Sustain Mizzou. It mentioned an award given to a Sustain member who is also a vice-president for a veteran’s organization on campus. It referred to his manic obsession with recycling and reducing waste, and mentioned his tireless, hands-on involvement with those activities. His name is Billy Froeschner.

When we read it, both Melanie and I said… “Sounds like a candidate for River Relief!”.

So we chased him down, had a beer with him and discussed options. After a couple of beers, he was completely into it. Through arm-twisting and email onslaughts, he got the entire Sustain Exec. Committee on board and away we went!

Friday evening, September 11 -
Most of the folks came on down to Cooper’s Landing Friday evening. We loaded up the boats with gear and headed upstream as the sun was beginning to set.

Everyone immediately set up their tents as we warmed up the spaghetti dinner Krissy Heitkamp had prepared for us. Another group of folks arrived later in the evening, and we picked them up at Katfish Katy’s.

After dinner, we gathered around the campfire and passed the feather (actually a stick this time). Everyone introduced themselves and explained what their connection to the river or this clean-up work was. This was one well-spoken, focused group of individuals. We were humbled to have them at our island camp, and to work with everyone in the morning.

After running through the “plan” for the next day, it went straight into general campfire relaxation and sandbar walks into the night. As far as details of the ensuing mayhem...what happens on the river stays on the river!

Saturday morning – September 12-
We got up early and cooked up breakfast. Sunrise was bloody red, painting the undulating waves of sand with ever changing stripes of light. A heron silently worked the shallows behind the island. Everyone got loaded in boats and we headed downstream to clean-up the rack-piles behind Baja Island.

My boat loaded up with all the camp gear and headed straight for Cooper’s. After unloading everyone’s packs, we picked up some new arrivals (even Phil Knocke, clean-up repeat offender, showed up!) and headed immediately to the Maiden’s Mouth (the mouth of Little Bonne Femme Creek. Another group cleaned up Carl’s Beach (the mouth of Perche Creek. Which was a good thing. Later that evening, a group of paddlers hosted by Missouri Life magazine ended up camping there – it was spic and span for their enjoyment!

As the tough Sustain crews worked behind Baja Island, we took our group just a bit downstream, to cleanup the woods of flotsam. Pretty quickly, one of the folks found a barrel and refrigerator way back in the woods. After failing to find our chopsaw in one of the other boats, Billy and some others decided there was no way they were leaving without this fridge. It was too heavy and the woods to thick to roll it out very easily, so they completely removed the insulated core and then smashed the metal skin into pieces that could be folded and easily carried through the woods.

Meanwhile, our other boat piloted by Rod Power had decided to go above California Island to a rack-pile they had scouted the week before. Just as they were preparing to leave, they found a complete hot tub floating in the shallows. It took everyone on board to get the thing into the boat, but they did it! Seeing that boat cruising downstream with this massive hot tub perched in its hull was quite a sight to see!

The piles of trash grew along the banks until it was finally time to go. Everyone loaded back up and we left this amazing crew of folks off at Cooper’s. Billy and his twin brother, Ricky, hopped back on board after lunch and we sent both plate boats to gather all the trash (as well as pick up another buoy and more….)

Check out our next posting to see an abbreviated Trash Tally for the day!

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