March 7, 2011

Missouri River Relief Celebrates 10 Years of Good, Clean, Trashy Fun, makes Congressional Record

On February 3rd, Missouri River Relief was honored in the U.S. Senate by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill in an official Congressional Record. 
>> Read it here

How did we come this far?  Well, here's the story:  In 2001, it started as an offbeat idea.

Gather as many people as you can on the banks of the Missouri River, stick them in boats, drop them off along the banks of the river, and see how much trash we can get out of there.

It turned out to be a really good idea.

There is no better way to build a network of river advocates than to get a bunch of river lovers to work side by side with folks that have never been on the river before, a community of people beginning to see the Big Muddy in a new light.   And after a few precious weekend hours, you have a massive pile of trash to show for it.  Literally tons of trash, pulled from the stream of garbage pulsing down our great river, the idea has become an organization dedicated to connecting people to this river, through hands-on river clean ups, education events and restoration activities.  Meet Missouri River Relief.  
photo by Wayne Werkmeister, National Park Service
Bringing tools, expertise, knowledge and an undying desire to get the work done, 2011 marks the organizations 10th anniversary of hands-on river work.  In just ten years, the organization has made a visible and lasting difference in over 20 river communities, bringing together more than 14,200 volunteers to haul more than 1 million pounds of trash (592 tons to exact) from 667 miles of river, and we’re  just gaining steam. 

To celebrate these accomplishments, build new partnerships, and continue the action, Missouri River Relief has an ambitious year of activities planned.  Starting this winter, River Relief is taking to the skies to conduct an aerial inventory of trash accumulations on the river and its floodplain with Eco-Flight.  

photo from EcoFlight webpage:
Areas of concentrated trash will be identified and mapped while the foliage is bare, and made available in a spatial database.  Upriver clean-ups will begin in the spring from Yankton, S.D. to Omaha, NE followed by the kick-off of our signature event of the year, the Big Muddy Clean Sweep, beginning in Kansas City on Sept. 10th.  The aerial “MegaScout” will be used to guide clean up activities as River Relief gears up for a massive rolling clean-up by barge .
The Big Muddy Clean Sweep in the fall will feature a garbage barge on a downriver voyage from Kansas City to the confluence with the Mississippi River in St. Louis over a two-month period (September 1st - November1st).  The barge will stop in river towns for community clean-ups, educational events and barge tours.    

 photo from Living Lands and Waters website:
River Relief’s 10th anniversary will serve as a springboard for future growth, building on existing and new partnerships, and identifying key individuals and organizations in communities to form a coalition of Missouri River Action Teams (MoRATs) interested in improving the health and beauty of the Missouri River for decades to come.

Ready to jump on board?  Keep checking in at for our 2011 schedule and links to other helpful resources, and get ready to take action!  Bring friends and family, recruit your business or organization, offer a product or service, or make a financial contribution to help turn the props.

“A river that once had almost no friends now has a growing host of passionate protectors, thanks to Missouri River Relief.”  -Jim Low, writer for the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

text by Melanie Cheney

No comments: