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Pirates Abscond with Booty From Banks of the Missouri River
Midwest Region, September 19, 2009
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Emily Kunz, a former employee of Columbia FWCO, proudly displays the frame of a card table removed from the banks of the Missouri River.
Emily Kunz, a former employee of Columbia FWCO, proudly displays the frame of a card table removed from the banks of the Missouri River. - Photo Credit: n/a
Patty Herman of Columbia FWCO returns a group of volunteers to the boat ramp after picking up trash along the banks of the Missouri River in front of the capitol.
Patty Herman of Columbia FWCO returns a group of volunteers to the boat ramp after picking up trash along the banks of the Missouri River in front of the capitol. - Photo Credit: n/a

Like any other Missouri River Relief cleanup event, Colby Wrasse and Patty Herman arrived to organized chaos at the Noren Access boat ramp in Jefferson City, Mo.  Amidst the morning laughter and salutations, event organizers were strategizing to maximize volunteer efforts and to safely get 10 miles of river tidied up.  Missouri River Relief is a passionate yet eclectic group of staff and volunteers dedicated to cleaning the shores of the Missouri River and its tributaries – so it isn’t unusual to see some pretty weird stuff at these events.  However, this morning we noticed that nearly everyone was wearing a pirate’s eye patch.  As Patty’s curiosity was peaked, she couldn’t resist asking, “so, what’s with the eye patches?”  Turns out that it was “International Talk Like a Pirate Day.”  For her question, she was promptly rewarded with an eye patch that she wore proudly during the event.  Much to the annoyance of the groups that rode in Patty’s boat, she proceeded to ask them all “…what’s a pirate’s favorite fish?  A gaaaarrrr!”     

It was an incredibly busy morning!  Colby and Patty each shuttled five groups of volunteers to sites upstream and downstream of the boat ramp.  An estimated 270 volunteers came out and picked up 5 ½ tons of trash from the river banks in front of our state capitol!  One of the unique things about this group is that they catalogue all of the trash they collect, leading to a very detailed account of each year’s effort.  In addition to the 235 bags of trash, a 300 gallon diesel tank, a bowling ball (still in its bag) and pin, a purse and a 14’ fiberglass boat were some of the highlights of “weird” trash collected.  All of the trash was sorted and aluminum, glass and plastic were recycled thanks to Civic Recycling.

For eight years now MRR has enhanced this great American river by removing tons of trash from its shorelines.  The Missouri River, like many rivers that flow through urban areas, is plagued by litter.  Unfortunately, even today, in our supposedly enlightened world, many people view rivers as their personal dumping grounds. Missouri River Relief is working to correct this situation by shedding light on this crisis while educating the public.  Columbia FWCO has helped MRR during the last six years by providing boats and personnel to assist in this massive effort.

Each year MRR hosts approximately five local cleanup events at different sites along the river.  The events are usually great successes because of the hard work of many dedicated volunteers.  The partnership between MRR, Living Lands and Waters, Missouri Department of Conservation, USFWS and countless volunteers is an example of the power of working together. 

Patty Herman and Colby Wrasse


Contact Info: Patricia Herman, 573-234-2132 x170, Patricia_Herman@fws.gov



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