March 25, 2009

River Otter Trash Tally!!!!

Third Annual River Otter Day Clean-up
March 21, 2009
Berkley Riverfront Park, Kansas City, MO

Pieces of concrete with re-bar - 4
Small animal skull (dog) - 1
Beach whistles (tampon applicators) - 2
Bags of trash - 212
PVC Pipe 15’ long - 1
5 gal plastic buckets - 1
Pieces of metal pipe - 4
Boxes of trash - 5
Fire extinguisher - 1
Barrel - 1
Wood Pallets - 9
Chairs - 5
Lg. Gas hose - 1
Street light globe - 1
Part of roof - 1
Toilet lid, size 82 - 1
Easy Bake Oven - 1
Corrugated sheet - 1
Toilet - 1
Bathroom sink - 1
Pedestal Sink - 1
Ants - 42,000
Bamboo Blind - 1
Railroad spike - 2
Large wooden Cable Spools - 2
Shovel, Broken handle - 1
Computer cases - 3
Misc. sizes of plywood sheets - 13
Chunks of Wood - 13
Plastic Tarps, assorted sizes - 15
Carpet pieces, assorted sizes - 13
Metal Bucket - 1
Old Wooden piano - 1
Construction cone - 1
Garden Hoses - 2
Muffler (auto) - 1
Rusty Metal, assorted sizes and HEAVY - 4
Metal Cable barge tie downs - 18 long pieces
Cable choker - 1
Fishing Rod & Reel - 1
Pieces of Large Metal pieces - 3
Heavy I-Beam, or Letter H, or Letter I - 1
Metal directional arrow - 1
Truck mirror - 1
8” corrugated plastic pipe - 6
Bumper - 1
Choker - 1
TV - 1
Blankets - 2
Bar Stool 1
Christmas Tree, dead and with NO lights - 1
Tape Measure - 1
Mesh Bags - 12
Twin Mufflers - 3
Construction barricades - 4
Tires * - 91
* Note: 20 of the assorted tires found were Tractor Trailer tires.

River Otter Day in downtown KC

The Third Annual River Otter Day
March 21, 2009
Berkley Riverfront Park - Kansas City, MO
text by Vicki Richmond, photos by Mark Rowlands

River Otter Day just celebrated its third year of bringing people down to the Missouri River in Downtown Kansas City. Bringing people down to the Missouri River, to the place where we became a city, where industry and commerce and population began.

This is a place that is seeing a renaissance. Amenities are being added to Berkley Park. Trails that connect KC citizens to points well to the east and west are underway and the Kansas City Riverfront Heritage Trail access is being greatly improved. A showcase Missouri River Ecosystem is being built in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers in an area just recently covered with unused concrete slabs that have attracted trash and construction debris, cans and tires.

The concentration of trash we saw just two years ago has sharply decreased. A success story is being written as we get ahead of the big and bulky and concentrate on smaller litter in the spots we’ve attacked before.

“Every piece of trash we pick up today makes a difference” said Vincent Gauthier, Executive Director of the Port Authority of Kansas City who sponsored the event. “On a beautiful first Saturday of spring we let Mother Nature breathe a little easier”.

Over 237 people came out to do just that! Crews combed the site of the new ecosystem, tackled every piece of trash at Berkley Riverfront Park and removed a history of cast offs near the Rugby fields and Columbus Park. The tally for the day’s unique trash is posted below.

Eljay’s coffee greeted volunteers with delicious java and hot chocolate for all. Lunch was served by the Centurions Leadership program of the KC Chamber of Commerce, as the music of the KC Uptown All Stars entertained the commendable crowd.

As an organizer, there is a moment when everyone has gone home and we sit and smile in front of the pile of garbage we’ve created. We feel a sense of pride in what people working together can accomplish.

My moment was interrupted by a camera flash. As I looked from the pile to the four bicycles parked nearby, it dawned on me. I was sitting in a truck, with trailer attached, beside a big pile of trash that had just appeared. My photo had been taken to “turn in the bad dumper.”

I sprang from the truck, grinning, with a results publication and my business card. “We DID put this trash here! It has come from over 20 acres of beautiful river frontage. I appreciate your commitment to keeping your city a cleaner place.”

I think we’ll see our new friends on a clean up sometime soon!

Special thanks to Vincent Gauthier, Melisa Lloyd, Branden Criman, Zoraya Lara, Port Authority of Kansas City and Julie Gibson Sally, Clear LLC for their gifts of time. Ahern Rentals provided grills for lunch and the electric carts pressed into service to transport supplies and bring trash to the dumpsters. Cole Welch of Tectonic directed the native plantings at the base of the Town of Kansas Pedestrian Bridge, leaving a lasting impression.

The Scuela Vida Nueva Kids
Team Rockhurst-
The Centurions
Missouri River Relief Crew
Youth Volunteer Corps
Missouri Master Naturalists
Stream Team Port Authority
Alligator Cove Stream Team
Little Blue River Stream Team
Friends of Lakeside Stream Team

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!!!!!

Mari-Osa 09 Trash Tally!

Mari-Osa Dump Clean-up, Part 2
March 7, 2009
Mari-Osa MDC River Access, Osage River

check out our Mari-Osa Results page

Working through these old dumps, you know you're going to come up with some trash treasures. Here's the unbelievable list of stuff volunteers pulled off the Osage River at our March 7, 2009, event.

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

106 large bags of Landfill Trash
76 large bags of Scrap Metal
24 32-gallon trash cans of Broken Glass
210 Car & Truck Tires
2 large Tractor Tires
2 Tractor Inner Tubes
3 Refrigerators
9 Washing Machines
1 Dishwasher
2 Driers
3 Hot Water Heaters
1 Tricycle
1 mangled Bicycle
1Car Fender
6 large pieces of Styrofoam
20 ft. of Corrugated Pipe
42 ft. of misc. Pipe
1 Cooler
7 5-gallon plastic Buckets
6 metal Buckets
1 cast iron Pot
3 Stoves
1 Stove Front & Drawer
2 Stove Tops & Pieces
1 massive Brake Drum
1 metal Love Seat Swing
11 Box Springs
1 Head Board
4 Cow Panels
Several rolls of Barbed Wire
25 ft. of Cable Wire
8 Rolls of Fencing
7 Chairs
1 Lamp
1 Toilet
1 MO 98 Road Sign
2” Copper fitting (Steam)
1 Hog Waterer
3 metal Hub Cap’s
1 Fender from Antique Truck
½ of a Car front end Grill & Headlight
1 Alternator
1 Crank Shaft
1 Car Seat Springs
2 Tail Pipes
1 Drive Shaft
2 pieces of Carpet
8 pieces of roofing Sheet Metal
½ of a Pasture Gate
1 double Kitchen Sink
1 Counter Top
1 boat full of assorted Wire & Fencing
1 ancient Boat Motor
1 coil of Heavy Cable
1 Sewing Machine
1 Culvert
1 Tractor Gear Box
1 Air Filter for tractor
1 mini Ironing Board
1 Hide-a-Bed Frame
8 welded Wire Hog Panels
1 cast iron Furnace Grate
1 Brush Hog Deck
30 corrugated Metal Panels
1 push Lawnmower
1 antique French Fry Cutter
1 Snoopy Soap Dish
2 sections of a toy Train Track
1 headless Raccoon Statue
2 Teapots
2 Wash Tubs
1 toy metal Dump Truck
1 See Saw
1 Baseball Glove
1 shot-up Sign that reads: “$50 Reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of any person or persons found willfully mutilating or destroying this sign. The O.J. Gude Co. NY”
1 toy Cash Register
1 soggy book titled “Shaping History”
The letter “C”
1 decorative Perfume Bottle

photos by Emily Kunz, Richard Levell & Melanie Cheneymariosagroupshot

Click here to check out our results page on our website, with other cool links -

Cleaning up an old mess...

Mari-Osa Dump Clean-up
March 7, 2009
Mari-Osa MDC Public Access, Osage River
check out our Mari-Osa results page

The Mari-Osa
There is a spot along the Osage River where the Maries River valley enters just below a row of high bluffs, referred to as the Mari-Osa Delta. For years this was the location of the Huber Ferry, shuttling folks coming to and from between the state capitol and places eastward across the wide Osage.

Now a bridge crosses the river there, and a string of campgrounds, cabins and trophy homes lines the river. One of the legacies of being a conduit of human traffic for so many years is the Huber Dump. For decades, everyone in the area used this easy bluff access as the place to dump everything they didn’t want any more. The bluff top, called by some “Contemplation Point” was also a popular hang out.

The view from the top of the bluff. Photo courtesy of Jason Jenkins, Rural Missouri magazine

The Dump
“Saturday, we’d load up a pickup truck with junk and drive up to the bluff and dump it off,” said one long-time local who shall remain unnamed. “That night we’d go back with a case of beer, party and throw the empty cans off the bluff.

The Dept. of Conservation shut the dump down a couple decades ago, stringing a cable across the roadside above, and busting dumpers. Most of the trash we’ve found there seems to be decades old.

Over the years, the dump was a landmark, a curiosity and, to some, an embarrassment. At last year’s Mari-Osa Dump Clean-up, one of the volunteers from one of the nearby towns talked about this. “We have a sister town in Germany and a few years ago a group of people from that town came here to visit,” she said. Some locals took the visitors on a cruise up the Osage. The travelers remarked on the beauty of the river and how it reminded them of Germany. But when they saw the dump they were kind of outraged. “When I heard it was going to get cleaned up, I had to come help.”

The "Before" Shot - this is what it looked like before the clean-up started. photo by Racin' Dave Stevens

Others just viewed it as a reminder of times past, of a time not long ago when there wasn’t trash service, when metal wasn’t easily scrapped or recycled. And from what I’ve seen, most folks are glad to see it go away.

One of those people is Jeff Finley, a biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service who has helped at many River Relief clean-ups and learning festivals over the years. A few years back, we were doing a clean-up at the mouth of the Osage, and he mentioned the dump and suggested we check it out. Racin’ Dave and Anthony scouted it out on their way home and the challenge was on.

“For years I’ve been cruising by that dump on my shoal runner,” he said. “I’d always thought somebody outta do something about that mess. Then I realized I knew just the people to do it.”

Over the years, the dump settled into pseudo-geologic layers: big appliances, cars, tires and farm implements moved to the bottom, spilling into the river. Uphill is a plume of steel cans, small toys, random household utensils and bottles. The entire thing is under laid with a layer of broken glass and shards of steel. Not exactly safe and really ugly.

Last year we held a clean-up of the dump, focusing on the big stuff at the base of this pile. Volunteers pulled almost 20 tons of junk out of there, shuttled across the river by boat to the Mari-Osa boat ramp at the base of the 50/63 bridge.

The 2008 Mari-Osa Clean-up - the view from the hill. photo by Lindsay Tempinson

This year we decided to start working uphill, and also put crews out on some of the other old dumps along that stretch. We debated for months on what the best approach was and came to the conclusion that we could really use a chute to quickly and safely slide trash down the steep, dangerous hill. One of our crew volunteers, Liz Doubet was looking around for rental donation of a construction chute when the brainstorm hit John Breyfogle.

The Flume (should be pronounced with a French accent)
John “Capt. Brey” Breyfogle, longtime River Relief crewmember and also member of the Alligator Cove Stream Team #1876, lives along the Missouri River just downstream of the Kansas City metro area. During the 2007 flooding, a new sandy beach began to form in the cove. Also deposited there was a 20 foot long, 4 foot wide plastic culvert, corrugated on the outside and smooth on the inside. He started calling the new beach “Culvert Beach”.

A couple weeks ago he called up with his idea. He’d dig out the culvert and cut it into pieces that could be reassembled into a flume to shoot trash cans down the hill. With a shovel, a saws-all and his neighbor’s backhoe, he went at it. Even after getting 5 inches of snow!

He hauled the pieces on his trailer to the ramp on the Friday before the clean-up. We loaded it in the Saskia and shuttled it over to the dumpsite. After a little head scratching, we decided it should go from the first terrace to the river. Trash would get loaded into trash cans up top, then dropped down the flume and either loaded in boats or bagged up so the cans could go back up again.

Adrian Andrei from Lincoln University oversees the trash flume operation at our 2009 clean-up.
photo by Emily Kunz

The pieces were laid out on the hill, screwed together into a flume, and staked in place with rebar.

It worked flawlessly. All day long, trash cans full of debris (mostly recyclable steel cans) went flying down the flume, where they were moved into boats and shuttled across to the ramp. Awesome!!

March 12, 2009

Adventures from the small boat's perspective

Mari-Osa Dump Clean-up Part 2

Loose Creek, MO, Osage River

March 7, 2009

by Vicki Richmond

MRR’s fleet has been growing almost as fast as our events. We’ve amassed a barn full of trash equipment, tools, supplies, vehicles and boats. And we had to start somewhere: with one small boat. The Karp, the MRR 150. She’s the smallest of our boats at just 18 feet. She’s got the smallest motor, a 50 HP Mercury. She’s dwarfed by the larger plate boats with larger motors by nearly 10 feet. And she’s still a dependable asset at each and every clean up.

The Karp has earned her stripes on each and every one of our 46 clean ups. She’s our first boat, and is now used as a people hauler and kept clean to use for press junkets at events. She’s taken on a little sideways tilt and there’s some play in the throttle. It takes the correct grimace to start her. She’s been the Kansas City training boat and has been instrumental in getting new captains their stripes.

This weekend, she made her way to the Osage River, after a layover at a marine dealer this winter getting her kinks worked out. The Osage was her first outing this spring and I was honored to be her captain.

The morning began with a trip to the Huber dump, to drop off site leaders and equipment. A quick touch of shore and, with the help of First Mate Bill, crew and supplies were unloaded. The 50 made her way back to the ramp to begin the shuttle of volunteer crews to sites.

Six trips later, we began picking up our crews and returning to the ramp. Each trip brought people and trash back to the ramp just in time for lunch. I grabbed a sandwich and some soup and headed back to the boats. As I sat for a moment relaxing in the sun, Lynne came looking for a captain. She had a team ready to haul trash and was on the hunt for a boat and a driver. We loaded quickly and headed across the river to a tire pile.

Tires were carefully loaded, bagged trash carefully balanced and we were off to the ramp. After unloading, we began this shuttle over and over again. Pull to shore and load the boat, Lynne carefully balancing loads while Ty and Nick threw bags and tires into the hull. Back to the ramp where crews unloaded the bags destined for the landfill and tires for recycling. I think we made 7 trips with trash.

She ran a little rough. She struggled upstream laden with trash. But she is a testament to the tenacity of the core of River Relief. We may be a little tilted, and certainly have our quirks, but always, always, come through!

March 11, 2009

Cabin fever brings 43 out to River Relief's First Litter Pick-up of the Year!

Old Plank/River Rd. Clean-up
Old Plank Rd. to Cooper's Landing, Easley, MO
February 7th, 2009

photos by Melanie Cheney
Stream Team: 1875
Total Volunteers: 43
Total Volunteer Hours: 107.5
Vehicles: 2 RR trucks w/ trailers, 1 VW van with a winkie
Roadmiles: 5
Recycle Tons: .2
Landfill Tons: .7
Tires: 1
Total Tonage: .9

Old Plank River Road Review

Saturday, February 7th was ourlast-minute Old Plank/River Road Clean-up for our Adopt-a-Road spots down by Cooper’s Landing. It was a beautiful day and a record amount of volunteers turned out for this fun little annual event.

Thanks & praises to all for your hard work - I drive that road everyday, and it is looking so beautiful! A big thanks to Mike Cooper for warming our bellies with
free coffee and chili!!! Thanks to Dylan and John Jansen for coming all the way from KC and Maryville – the MRR pickup and trailer were really helpful!

Also, thanks to Racin’ Dave, Diana, Ruthie, Jeanie and Dyan for helping put the box truck and kitchen back in order. We really appreciate it! This year, we had MUCH less trash than in previous years. I think we’ve finally gotten the background trash noise knocked out! And hopefully one of these days, those reckless, littering river road drivers will get the message.

For more results, stories and photos, check out Dylan’s super sweet blog for a complete rehash of the weekends wonderful river adventures at:

Trash Tally!

20 bags of recyclables
18 large bags of trash
1 box full of household chemicals
1 Water heater
1 Piece of aluminum ladder
1 Freezer
1 Tire
2 Lazy-boy chairs
3 Couches

A huge thanks to the Boone County Public Works for providing the Adopt-a-Road program and picking up our huge pile of trash every year!