June 18, 2008

Siouxland Tally!

Siouxland Missouri River Clean-up
June 7, 2008
the tri-state (IA, NE, SD) area of Siouxland
photos by Dave Stous & Melanie Cheney

This was our first clean-up in the Siouxland area. This tri-state region encompasses the communities of Sioux City, Ia, South Sioux City, NE, and North Sioux City, SD. Thanks to a massive coalition of local partners and sponsors, it was a fantastic event. We were welcomed whole heartedly by the locals in all communities.

As we get some time after our manic spring season, we'll post more stories and photos here. For now, though, check out the trash tally below (we don't have tonnage reports yet) and PLEASE check out MRR crewmember Dylan Lehrbaum's excellent blog and photos from the clean-up at:

Total Volunteers: 230
MRR Crew: 20
Boats: 11 (4 Missouri River Relief boats, 2 Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, 1 Army Corps of Engineers, 1 South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, 2 Iowa DNR, 1 Private Boat)
Rivermiles: 10
Tonnage: unknown
Tires: 24
River level: 14.8 feet (Sioux City gage)

Siouxland Trash Tally!!!!
Filling two 30-yard dumpsters of landfill trash and one 30-yard dumpster of scrap metal, we found (at least):

175 Bags of Trash
1 Refrigerator
2 Grills
12 Washing Machines
8 Washing Machine parts
5 Hot Water Heaters
17 Large Gas Cylinders/Tanks
1 Small Gas Cyclinder
2 Bicycles
3 Bicycle parts
1 Chunk of Styrofoam
2 AC Compressors
1 Boxspring
5 Boxsprings parts
1 Bedframe
6 Bedframe parts
1 Lazy Boy Frame
1 55-Gallon Drum Dog House
1 55-Gallon Trash Can w/ trash
5 55-Gallon Plastic Barrels
12 Folding Chairs
1 Sleeper Sofa
Several Barstools with Bases
5 Mufflers
1 Shock
2 Car Seats
3 Exhaust Pipes
1 Rim
3 Tail Pipes
2 Dash Boards
1 Hubcap
1 Triangular Side Window
1 Car Seat
1 Convertible Top Frame
1 Car Hood Frame
1 Bumper Liner
2 Stove Burner Tops
Metal Piping
2 Sign Posts
1 Braided Cable
1 Storm Grate
1 Stove Door
1 Big Iron Beam
1 Saw Blade
1 Gas Burner
2 Kitchen Cabinets
3 Pieces of Rebar
30 Pieces of Scrap Metal
1 10X12 piece of Carpet
1 Spiderman Blanket
1 School Crossing Sign
1 Mailbox
1 Flatscreen TV Front with no screen
1 Chainlink Fence
3 T-posts
1 Dog Igloo
1 Electric Harness
2 Garden Hoses
1 Antique Metal Wheel
1 Cast Iron Sewer Pipe
1 Tractor Hood
1 Rubber Mat
Several Yards of Electric Cable
1 Lumber Hook
1 Toilet Cover
1 Toilet piece
1 Metal Milk Crate
1 Metal Slide
1 Rebar w/ Concrete
15 ft. of Rebar
1 Fencepost w/ Concrete
1 Lawnmower Deck
4 ft. Plastic Candy Cane
1 Cylinder Head for a Lawn Mower
1 Be-headed Duck Decoy
1 50 ft. Carpet strip
WWII Decking Strip
1 Water Pump & Tank
1 Radiator
1 Fishing Rod
1 Newspaper Vending Machine (Omaha)
1 Duck Blind
1 Bike Tire
1 Metal Chair Base
½ of a Push Mower
1 Swimming Pool
1 Section of Barge Cable
2 pieces of Corregated Steel
1 Paint Can
¾ of a White Christmas Tree
1 60-foot section of dock with slips (not trash, actually!)

Goat Island Trash Tally!

Goat Island Clean-up
May 16, 2008
Missouri National Recreational River
photos by Paul Lepisto and Melanie Cheney

On May 16, a crew of 23 River Relief diehards joined up with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service and the Izaac Walton League for a unique clean-up of Goat Island, a no-mans-land of sorts located between Yankton and Vermillion, S.D. on the unchannelized Missouri National Recreational River.
The mission of the clean-up was to rid the island of the remains of a cattle operation run on the island a couple decades ago. From barbed wire to stock tanks and cattle panels, we rounded up the junk and shipped it off the island by boat.
We'll post more stuff here about this fascinating place as we have time to do so, but in the meantime check out our tally below and PLEASE check out MRR crewmember Dylan Lehrbaum's awesome blog (with awesome photos) about the adventure at:http://dylbug.blogspot.com/2008/05/yankton-clean-up.html

Here's some more photos - https://www.flickr.com/photos/riverrelief/sets/72157613166079718/
Goat Island Trash Tally!
Scrap Tons – 1.5 tons
Landfill Trash – approx .5 tons

10 55 gallon plastic barrels
½ 55 gallon plastic barrel retrofitted as a toilet
1 55 gallon metal drum
1 recliner
¾ of a sofa
332 feet of wooden snow fence
(at least) 300 yards of triple strand barbed wire (every piece on the island!)
47 16X8 foot metal fence sections
19 curved corral fence sections
49 t-posts

1 chaise lounge lawn chair
2 tire rims
6 tires
1 8-foot diameter, 3-foot deep stock tank
2 refrigerator doors
5 sheets of roofing tin
2 car batteries
7 grills
12 sheets of misc plywood

June 4, 2008

How to dress for a river clean up

hat.... check!
sunglasses... check!
gloves... check!
boots... check!

pants... Check!

How not to dress for a river clean up...

Granted this particular clean up was on an island our crew was camping on and our fellow crew mate here had just changed clothes after lunch not knowing there was still plenty of things to drag out of the woods! But I gotta say, I totally respect a guy that can pull off wearing a sarong while dragging barbed wire like my friend Indi here. Cheers buddy!

June 3, 2008

Adventures Unfold when there are Treasures to Behold

By Melanie Cheney
“One man’s trash is another man’s Treasure” –who ever said that, they were right on

It’s unsettling when you are just floating down the river or driving the beautiful river road for pleasure, and your mates call out, Refrigerator! Tire! Like raptors with a keen eye for their prey. Our group has definitely become familiar with the science of trashology on the Big Muddy since taking a 754 mile journey down the Missouri River in 2006. Mapping where trash accumulates, where the densest populations occur, and how it just keeps booking it downstream toward the Mississippi, then the Gulf, and then I imagine to the huge plastic gyres accumulating in the ocean. It’s a sad & daunting task being river cleaners, yet wildly gratifying at the same time. You are physically making a difference before your very eyes, and when hundreds of volunteers get together for one of our events, we literally pick up tons of trash, and recycle much of it when we can.

So the best part of being in a group like this are the adventures we take on this wild river. She’s definitely got a mind of her own, and you just have to know the river and work with her. The river rises & falls sometimes several feet in one day. It’s moving stuff around constantly, washing trash down, and piles of driftwood & debris build up to form big whirlpools that later settle down in an inlet, behind a wing dike, or trail dike. Here is where there is usually a big refrigerator or buoy mixed in with the big trees & limbs, tires, coolers, gas cans, light bulbs amazingly fully in tact, and a million plastic & glass bottles in the mix.

These piles are my absolute favorite thing to clean. Not only are they kinda fun to walk around on, balancing and carefully stepping on and over the debris, and carefully making sure you won’t fall through into the bottomless pitt of mud or water, but you can find some of the strangest treasures in there. Some of my favorite finds have been a glass jar sealed full of dry bay leaves (for that one I got the most fragrant trash award), or one time I found a full jar of after sun aloe cream, and after most of our crew got burned that day, we ended up using it for our poor fried faces. I found a magic 8 ball once, and my latest great finds were a coconut carved out into a monkey’s head and a perfectly intact bow saw. Once I was working the ramp and a girl walked off the river with a dozen yellow roses, real ones, and they were beautiful! You just never know what you’ll find out there, as disgusting as it can be, it is truly amazing at the same time.

One thing we are always sure to find on a clean up is a message in a bottle. In the last month, we have found a bottle with a $5 bill in it, and at least 3 other messages. Most of them just have a note that states their name & contact info. & where they threw it in, hoping you’ll write back to see how far it has traveled. Some however are silly or naughty. Those are rare, but the good ones. We found one once that said “Eat at Joe’s” then it had appeared as if someone had found it and wrote “Joe’s sucks” and threw it back in. Another message we had waited to read to the crowd at the Osage clean-up during lunch, upon opening it, much of it was too racy to read aloud, oh but the look on their faces, and the crowd laughing, that was priceless.

photo by Tim Cheney

Stay posted on the blog for our ever so interesting trash tally’s post clean-up, or check out year’s past. Despite having fun finding these treasures and having full on job security with cleaning the Big Muddy, I hope our society will become more conscious of what they are sending downstream. To join a river clean up in your area, check out the stream team’s website to find one near you, they’re also coming out with a schedule in next month’s Conservationist Magazine, or form a Stream Team of your own and start pickin up that trash!