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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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The River that Binds
Midwest Region, September 11, 2010
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A group of volunteers stand next to the large pile of trash they collected at a Missouri River Relief Clean-up in St. Charles, MO. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
A group of volunteers stand next to the large pile of trash they collected at a Missouri River Relief Clean-up in St. Charles, MO. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a
Tires abound along the banks of The Big Muddy (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Tires abound along the banks of The Big Muddy (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a

Take a look at any map, and you will quickly see that rivers are often used as dividing lines – separating cities, counties, states, and even countries.  But these same rivers which divide can also bring us together.  Such was the case on September 11th of this year when 268 volunteers from all walks-of-life, joined forces to clean-up one of America’s great rivers, the Missouri (aka The Big Muddy).  

This particular clean-up, at St. Charles, MO, was just one of several organized by Missouri River Relief (MRR), a grassroots, volunteer organization dedicated to improving the Missouri River Valley.

The goal of the St. Charles Clean-up was to remove trash from 10-miles of river shoreline, while educating people about the Missouri River.  One of the logistic challenges of these river clean-ups, is the safe and efficient transport of hundreds of volunteers to sites scattered up and down the river.   It takes a fleet of boats, eleven to be exact, to pull this off. 

This is where Columbia FWCO and our large john boats come into play.  Technicians Patty Herman and Colby Wrasse captained two Columbia FWCO boats, escorting volunteers to designated sites while giving them a crash course in big river ecology.  Some of the topics discussed included:  endangered pallid sturgeon, man-made river modifications, and invasive species, such as silver carp - which seemed to jump right on queue.   

As always, the dedicated people at MRR and their loyal volunteers pulled off another successful river clean-up.  On just this one day, seven tons of trash were removed, most of which was recycled.  Some of the trashy highlights included:  107 tires, 5 refrigerators, a 42” flat screen TV, and a message in a bottle. 

We have assisted with several MRR clean-ups over the past few years.  While we are happy to help out, we also get something in return, as these events  provides us with an excellent opportunity to spread our message, while doing something constructive to improve the river on which we work.   

 The story of Missouri River Relief is an inspiring tale, a wonderful example of what enthusiastic, motivated people can do when they work together.   Since MRR’s inception nearly a decade ago, they and more than 12,000 volunteers have removed over 537 tons of trash from the Missouri River and its tributaries.  And most importantly, they have generated great interest from local communities which have come together to take stewardship of their Missouri River.  To learn more about Missouri River Relief visit their website:    http://www.riverrelief.org/

 


Contact Info: Colby Wrasse, 573-234-2132 x30, colby_wrasse@fws.gov



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