September 28, 2009

A Week on the River

River Camp 2009
California Island (RM 177)
Manitou Bluffs Conservation Opportunity Area

September 11 - 20, 2009
text by Steve Schnarr, photo by Francis Baum

Back in 2007, we tried to put together a week of activities and networking in the St. Louis area we called River Camp. A Watershed Festival, Stream Team Clean-up and naturalist foray onto Pelican Island went off without a hitch.

As we began setting up our big tent on a beautiful sandbar on the head of Pelican Island, in came the NWS weather report: a “wall of water” was heading down the Missouri River toward St. Charles.

We had to pull up stakes and head back home to help with sandbagging and flood preparations.

Ever since, we’ve been dreaming of a River Camp Reprise. This year was our chance.

Within the idea of River Camp was another, even older idea. The desire to get our sponsors, partners and friends on a sandbar for a unique banquet under the stars. From that idea came the bigger concept that, if we’re putting up infrastructure on an island, we might as well pile on a series of other events, bringing together diverse groups to accomplish diverse things along a certain stretch of river.

For River Camp 2009, we decided on our home stretch of river. With access from Katfish Katy’s, Cooper’s Landing and Eagle Bluffs, we had ultimate flexibility. With our local history and partnerships, it became easier to work with other groups. And with our strong mid-Missouri crew, we knew we could pull it off.

The fact that California Island is located along one of the most remote and beautiful stretches of river within Manitou Bluffs Conservation Opportunity Area was an added bonus.

So here was our schedule for the week. Check our blog as we update it with photos and stories from the week:

Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 12 - 13
Missouri River Clean-up with Sustain Mizzou and other University of Missouri organizations. We invited folks from this awesome organization to camp with us on the island, then hit the river for a clean-up from Katfish Katy's to Cooper's Landing.
• EcoArtFest - This is a fundraiser for MoRivCC, a non-profit that archives recorded video and audio of local musical treasures. Missouri River Relief hosted a booth and trash to art exhibit. We also offered a sunset cruise raffle and educational boat trips on Providence Bend of the river.

Monday, Sept. 14
"Birds, Bugs and Botany - A Naturalists' Foray on the Missouri River" We hosted a mix of professional, amateur and aspiring naturalists for a trip on the river, making species lists of the plants and wildlife we found at Eagle Bluffs CA, Plowboy Bend CA and Overton South Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

Tuesday, Sept. 15
• We hosted the Friends of Big Muddy and Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge staff for a pot-luck and campfire discussion on the island.

Wednesday, Sept. 16
• Missouri River Relief Crew and Board Meeting on California Island.

Thursday, Sept. 17
River Managers' Forum and Field Trip - We invited local river managers and biologists to join us on an afternoon river field trip.
River Camp Sandbar Banquet- Our sponsors, partners and friends were invited for a magical evening on California Island, with dinner, music, a presentation and bonfire on California Island.

Saturday, Sept. 19
Jefferson City Missouri River Clean-up - Click here for results of this awesome event. Over 270 volunteers helped remove 5.6 tons of trash from the river.