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Big Muddy gets cleaning in St. Charles
Midwest Region, September 20, 2003
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The Big Muddy got a makeover Sept. 20 as volunteers fished a strange and sticky collection of debris from its waters and banks.

Missouri River Relief, in a cleanup that drew nearly 500 volunteers to St. Charles, focused on a 12-mile stretch of the Missouri River.

In seven hours, the volunteers bagged the usual mess of tires, car pieces, cans and appliances. But the cleanup crew was abuzz with the oddities: the bowling ball, headless duck decoy and fortune-telling statue of Yoda of "Star Wars" fame.

Missouri River Relief sent about 280 people out in boats from its base next to the Lewis & Clark Museum and Boat House in St. Charles. About 200 people also picked up trash along 20 miles of the Katy Trail.

The volunteers' focus Saturday was from river mile 34 downstream to river mile 22, essentially from Bryan Island to Jane Downing Island. More than a dozen boats shuttled volunteers to spots marked for cleanup. Many of the boats belonged to the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Last year, we had all kinds of weird stuff, a piano, bits of cable," said one of the organizers, Jim Karpowicz of Columbia, Mo. "There were a few quirky messages in bottles. One was from a 95-year-old man who wanted someone to write back."

Lindbergh High School teacher Jim Denner gave extra credit to anyone in his 9th-grade biology class who pitched in. Two hours into their trash search Saturday, four of Denner's students were lugging an old freezer full of sewage from the riverbank. They used black marker to autograph the side of the freezer.

"These kids are getting much more than extra credit today," Denner said. "They're getting a life lesson, knowing not to pollute."

This was Missouri River Relief's third effort this year along the river. In May, the group tackled a portion of the river near Columbia, and last weekend it was in Kansas City.

Information written by: Reporter Kim Bell: E-mail: kbell@post-dispatch.com Phone: 314-340-811 Do not create article unless given approval

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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