November 11, 2010

Karl's Big River Adventure

St. Joseph Missouri River Clean-up
French Bottom River Access & Boat Dock, St. Joseph, MO - Rivermile 450
October 16, 2010

text by Steve Schnarr, photos by Vicki Richmond and Kris Lancaster (EPA)
For more clean-up info and results, click here

At our St. Joseph clean-up, we had a special visitor. Karl Brooks, the Regional Administrator for Region 7 of the US Environmental Protection Agency came for lunch and to help us out with the trash haul (by the way, if you click that EPA link above and scroll down, you can see their news release on the clean-up).

The trash haul is one of the most rewarding parts of the day. You get a good boat ride through the whole reach of the clean-up and get to see all the piles of trash volunteers collected throughout the morning. Then you pick those piles up and load 'em into a boat. When Karl told our director, Jeff Barrow, that he wanted to help at a clean-up, Jeff suggested he come for the trash haul.

Karl was a hard worker (yeah, it looks like he's lounging in this photo...but a big pile of trash bags is a great place to recline in between hitting trash sites!). And a really pleasant part of the crew. This gave our board president Dave Stous a chance to explain what Missouri River Relief does for the river and the citizens that live along it. Good stuff!

Karl immediately "got it". Although he'd lived for many years in Lawrence, KS, on the banks of the Kaw River, he'd never been on the Mighty Missouri before. "I can't tell you how many times I've driven over this river on bridges," he said, echoing the response we hear from so many volunteers. "But getting out on it in one of these boats is completely different. You can feel the power of this amazing river, and feel that it's actually alive."

That's such a big part of what we do - exposing people to the world class resource we have right under our noses in a way that is so personal, so hand-on that it changes people.

It was an honor to show the Big Muddy to Karl Brooks and the EPA crew.

Speaking of the EPA crew, EPA biologist Deanna Collier led a group of EPA boat operators that morning, hauling volunteers out on the river. They did a wonderful job, and we'd be sunk without the help of river experienced pilots like EPA, MDC, USFWS and more.

By the way, Karl wanted us to pass on his appreciation to all of you who have given up your Saturday mornings and more to clean-up our Big Muddy Missouri River.

So Thanks!

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