History of the Northern Ozark Rivers Partnership

As told by Larry Cain, who serves as MSTWC president, Northern Ozark Rivers Partnership vice president, and coordinator of  Stream Team 1008, the Twin River Rangers.  

Our Stream Team Association, Northern Ozark Rivers Partnership was first born at a meeting organized by (president) Burt Stewart at Meramec State Park on October 19, 1996.

Our first Stream Team picnic was held on September 27, 1997 at Meramec State Park,  for the main purpose of recognizing 1000 stream teams.

At this time, the association decided to try an annual picnic and regrouped at Meramec State Park on September 26, 1998. It was a cool fall day. Because of the cool temperature, except for a few kids, no one else went in the river. It was then decided that 1999’s picnic would be scheduled for the summer, the fourth Saturday in July, and has been ever since. 

The Meramec Watershed Celebration picnic has grown over the years. NORP grills, and Stream Team members contribute side dishes.
The Meramec Watershed Celebration picnic has grown over the years. NORP grills, and Stream Team members contribute side dishes.

As the picnic has grown over the years, our committee has grown also. Most of the picnic is coordinated by our association’s core families.

We have several partners including the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri Department of Conservation,  Missouri Stream Team, Open Space Council, and Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition. We also have sponsors and volunteers who help each year.

Canoeing on the Huzzah River. Photo from the Missouri Division of Tourism Archives, Missouri State Archives.
Canoeing on the Huzzah River. Photo from the Missouri Division of Tourism Archives, Missouri State Archives.

NORP Stream Teams hail from the following fantastic waterways:

  • Meramec River
  • Courtois River
  • Huzzah River
  • Big River
  • Bourbeuse River

To see NORP in action, head down to Sullivan this weekend for the 16th Annual Meramec Watershed Celebration, just one of our official 25 Days of Stream Team events.


Jacks Fork Cleanup Results

Members of the  Scenic Rivers Stream Team Association crew sure know how to draw a crowd!

Many dozens of participants at the 16th Annual Jacks Fork Cleanup.

By all measures, the 16th Annual Jacks Fork Cleanup was a major success. It was a great turnout, and look at all this trash they saved from the streams and banks:

  • 7 tires
  • 1 tractor tire
  • 11 large green mesh bags
  • 80 red mesh bags
  • 4 large trash bags
  • 2 grills
  • 1 Sleeping bag
  • Chimney Tiles
  • 8×8 post with eye bolt
  • Spray cans
  • Hitching post

And that’s only naming the highlights! 

Photos courtesy of Angel Kruzen and Ted Haviland.

Bay Creek’s looking a whole lot cleaner thanks to these good Stream Team citizens!
This lucky Stream Teamer won a canoe for coming out and cleaning Jacks Fork. Lucky duck!
This smiling Stream Teamer won a canoe for coming out and cleaning Jacks Fork. Lucky duck!

Plan out next year’s cleanup excursion early! Why not? You can read our event preview from June here.

Did you know that the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition helps Stream Teams dispose of tires for free? Click here for more information. It could save your team lots of dollars!
“Stash your trash.” But you already knew that.

Did you attend the Jacks Fork Cleanup, or one of its sister events, like the one on the Current? Let us know how it went in the comments below!


6th Annual Water Quality Monitoring Outing at Montauk State Park

Let it be known, by formal declaration of Stream Team 31, the Ozark Fly Fishers, 2014 is … (bum bada bum!) The Year of the Stonefly! An auspicious year. A year of promise. An indicator of most excellent water quality.

That’s the hope, the spirit, of this weekend’s 25th Anniversary outing.

ozark_pinActivities: Enjoy camaraderie, take a fly tying class, eat barbecue, work on your fly casting with a certifie​d casting instructor, learn about Tenkara (Japanese style fly fishing) on stream, win a raffle prize, and have some ice cream at the end of the day. Whew!
Date: July 11 & 12, 2014
Place: Montauk State Park, Salem
Friday: 6:00 p.m. at the Searcy Building
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. at the new pavilion
8:30 p.m. at the Searcy Building

What to expect: We kick off Friday evening the 11th at 6:00 pm at the Searcy Building. Dr. Barry Poulton of the USGS will present a program on the natural history of the Stonefly.

Following Dr. Poulton’s presentation at 7:00 pm, Mark Van Patten, MDC Stream Biologist and host of the PBS TV seriesThe Tying Bench, will present a fly tying class. This class will be dedicated to the imitative forms of the Stonefly. If you do not know how to tie and would like to learn, Mark will provide expert instruction, along with the equipment and materials needed for tying these flies.

Everyone is welcome to attend. If you are unfamiliar with Stream Team, Stream Team staff will be on hand to mentor and answer any questions that you may have.


For more information: contact Scott Darrough at 314-560-1335 or swdarrough@yaho​ Registration is required so that adequate food preparations can be made.

25th-ST_Logo-Color-Final(white-center)Summer is the perfect time to get your family out in the streams. We put a little icing on the cake (and serve up the cake!) with “25 Days of Stream Team,” more than 25 special events that celebrate the good work of our volunteers. Did we mention there are prizes for attending? There are. They’re great prizes. You’re welcome.


Declare Independence from trashy boat accesses!

It’s about to be a big week for the Missouri River. Not only will its banks and its barges see a ton of Fourth of July action, but the MR340 is coming round the bend July 8th through 11th [edit: the race has been postponed to mid-August; another month to clean your access!]

Missouri River Relief Stream Team 1875 is facilitating a “Do-It-Yourself” cleanup of Missouri River boat accesses. Volunteers are invited to adopt a Missouri River access near them for the week, help clean up trash from Independence Day weekend, and show the MR340 race participants how clean we keep our Missouri River boat ramps!

Access adopters will be responsible for disposing of the trash they pick up, and River Relief will assist in this process. Stream Team and River Relief will supply trash bags, gloves, and a Stream Team 25th anniversary t-shirt. Click here to sign up, or for more information, email riverrelief@riv​ Deadline to register to receive supplies will be Monday, June 23rd.

Great Lakes Plastic Pollution

Bathroom products vs. clean water: why Illinois banned microbeads

AP photo courtesy 5gyres

Our nation’s waterways have a new threat, and it might be lurking on your bathroom counter.

Plastic microbeads–found in many health and beauty products including face washes and toothpaste–are turning up in water systems everywhere, from Los Angeles rivers, to Arctic seas, to Midwest lakes, to coastal bays. That’s bad news for aquatic life, which mistake the beads for eggs and other food.

Here’s the latest news  on what scientists are learning about these tiny balls o’ petrochemicals, and who’s taming their spread.

With Concern For Environment, Illinois Bans Microbeads. By Cheryl Corley for NPR.

photo by Flickr user gentlemanrook

“Scientists say after fish and other organisms eat the tiny bits of plastic — usually listed as polyethylene or polypropylene on labels — toxins could be passed on to humans and wildlife.

“The Illinois law bans the manufacture of microbeads in consumer products by the end of 2017. Some companies, like Johnson & Johnson, are already phasing them out in facial cleansers and other products and are testing alternatives.”

‘Microplastics’ imperil marine life in Tampa Bay, worldwide. By Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Eckerd crew has consistently found about 150 particles of microplastics per gallon sampled.

…Some of the microplastics could be coming from the sewage plants that still dump treated waste into the bay.

[Plants] have made great strides in preventing nitrogen from flowing into the bay from their waste stream, Greening said, but nobody has given any thought to screening out microplastics. Hastings said doing so “would be very, very difficult and expensive.”

Researchers finding plastic in water samples from Great Lakes. By Dana Massing for the Erie Times-News.

“If it’s in the water, ultimately it’s in us,” said Mason, an associate professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia. “We need to stop putting these chemicals into the water.”

Think you might be part of the problem? There’s an app for that.

Download Plastic Soup Foundation’s Beat the Microbead App. Scan a barcode before you purchase a cosmetic, and it will tell you whether it contains microplastics. You could also just look for polyethylene or polypropylene in the ingredients list.

Hey, if you need exfoliating action, that’s A-OK. Simply choose products using crushed walnut shells, oats, or poppy seeds–organic alternatives that are way better than plastic.


“Know Your Watershed” Festival in Harrisonville June 28

Activities: Experts will show you the ways of water, from hydrology to plants to policy. Gain new knowledge AND new friends who care about water just as much as you do!
Date: Saturday, June 28
Time: 7:30-11:30 a.m.
Place: Harrisonville Square

The 3rd Annual “Know Your Watershed” festival in Harrisonville may not be as big as Bonnaroo, but don’t let that stop you from rocking out to the sounds of your favorite stream!  Representatives from the South Grand River Watershed Alliance, the City of Harrisonville, the Missouri Department of Conservation and others will sprawl over Harrisburg Square, ready to teach YOU about local waterways.

High note of your summer? We think so.

Attendees will learn about:

  • The importance of keeping rain where it falls and how streams buffered by native trees, rain gardens, rain barrels, and native plant landscapes help to keep stormwater runoff pollutants out of our streams.
  • Actions individuals, businesses, and government entities can take to address stormwater runoff. 
  • The function of wetlands for water quality and quantity.
  • Threats that invasive exotic plants and animals pose to the health of watersheds. 
  • Urban and rural nonpoint source pollution, rain barrels, and more.
  • Demonstrations showing how streams function, including an interactive stream table!

(sidenote: while you’re visiting the Harrisonville Square, maybe you can buy its buildings from a bank robber–strange but true!)


For more information: Visit, call (816) 758-6708, or email contactinfo@sg​


A VWQM Journey on Bryant Creek

photo by Flickr user jeff yielding

This article is a mashup of two pieces first published on Stream Team volunteer George Sims’ blog, The Bugs of Popo Agie His group has worked hard to protect Bryant Creek, including a mile-by-mile water quality assessment report. Big thanks to George for sharing his story!

April 2, 2013 – “Down the Creek Without a Paddle”

John and Sue and I put our kayaks and canoe in at the “Monastery Bridge” in Douglas County, only a mile or so from Assumption Abbey, a Trappist monastery, and paddled over ten miles downstream to the Highway 95 bridge, just below the Ozark County line.

In addition to enjoying a great day of sun, fun, and good companionship, we were conducting chemical monitoring of the stream at one-mile intervals as part of the State of Missouri’s Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) program.  This endeavour provides free training to individuals, enabling them, in the Introductory training, to learn to identify “aquatic macroinvertebrates” (bug larva) as indicators of water quality.

John is a Level 3 monitor, so he provided the “adult supervision” for Sue and me.  Our Master Naturalist chapter, based in West Plains, developed an ambitious project in 2010, whereby we would monitor every mile of the 42+ mile, floatable portion of Bryant Creek, from the Vera Cruz MDC (Missouri Conservation Department) access, down to the confluence of Bryant with the North Fork of the White River at Tecumseh.


We divided the stream into four sections, with a team leader responsible for each segment.  As my segment was substantially longer than the others, John and Sue graciously lent their help in covering almost 2/3 of the nearly 18-mile stretch.

Early on, we passed a crystalline spring, which issued from a cave on the left hillside, tumbling over mossy rocks down to the creek.

The temperatures rose to nearly 80 during the day, and I only managed to sink my kayak TWICE, an improvement of 33% over last year’s outing, although I DID manage to lose my paddle in the process.  Fortunately, John had brought an extra, so I was not left to live in the wilderness, eating lichens, and slowly starving and turning feral.
We sampled twelve sites, and managed to reach the take-out point just as darkness descended.  All the data was organized, and submitted electronically to the Missouri Stream Team program, a truly wonderful undertaking, which involves over 4,000 volunteer “stream teams” which clean, monitor, and enjoy Missouri’s beautiful waterways.
A truly great way to spend a day, with good friends, a beautiful stream, and a worthwhile reason to be there.
With apologies to Anne Murray:
Can you imagine a piece of the universe more fit for princes and kings?
I’ll trade you ten of your cities for my Bryant Creek, and the pleasures it brings.
Out on the Bryant, on soft summer nights,
Bonfires blaze, to the children’s delight.
They dance ’round the flames, singing songs with their friends,
I wish I was with them again.

Bryant Creek is part of the North Fork of the White River Watershed, and is a lovely place to fish, swim, or float.  All water quality data is submitted to the State of Missouri’s Stream Team program, and is also compiled into an ongoing report, complete with data, graphs, bells and whistles.The complete text of the report, through 2012, is given in pdf form at the link below. 

BCAP Ongoing Report


Cruise the Creeks in Columbia on June 8

Activities: Bike, walk or skip along the MKT trail and see first-hand what the City of Columbia has done to improve water quality. Then, grab a beer and earn some ca$h money for MSTWC!
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2014
Time: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Place: Kicks off at Flat Branch Park in downtown in Columbia

What to expect: Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to ramble! In just a few miles of trail, you’ll learn about how Columbia’s rain gardens and wetlands beautify landscapes and staunch stormwater, watch some riveting time-lapse photography, and learn things about the Flat Branch and Hinkson Creek watersheds that most of its neighbors don’t even know about. Click here for the full line-up.

These are beautiful trails, and the forecast looks like mid-70s. Worth a trip? Absolutely. Want to sweeten the deal? Read on.

CTC beer handbill-02

Drink a beer for MSTWC: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, those darlings, have agreed to give 100% of their proceeds from all Big Muddy Brown Ales sold on June 8th to the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition. We’ll get $1/pint from the first batch after that.

Directions: Make your way to downtown Columbia. You’ll find a small parking lot next to Flat Branch off of Elm Street, and street parking is free on the weekends!

How to get a passport stamp: Check in with the Stream Team table when you arrive at Flat Branch Park!

For more information: Contact Stream Team’s own Amy Meier at or by calling (573) 522-4115, ext. 3166.

25th-ST_Logo-Color-FinalWe hope you enjoy hitting the trails as part of Missouri Stream Team’s Silver Celebration. If you just can’t get enough, dust off your kayaks and check out all the stuff we have planned through the rest of the year. Each event  you attend earns a stamp on your passport. Each stamp earns you a chance to win cool prizes. Learn more about the Passport Program here.

Jacks Fork River

The 16th Annual Jacks Fork Cleanup is this Saturday

SRSTAActivities: Hop aboard your vessel of choice! We’ll snag trash from the Jacks Fork and commune with Ozark floaters in one of Stream Team’s staple stewardship events, sponsored by the Scenic Rivers Stream Team Association.
Date: Saturday, June 7, 2014
Time: Registration 8-9 a.m.
Place: One of seven locations (see below)

What to expect: This is a float-centric cleanup. But we’ll let landlubbers pick up along the banks.

Pick your own location, and get there between 8-9 a.m. After the signup and shuttle, the group will start to float their section.  Some float fast while others spend a lot of time on the bars and diving, so groups tend to get scattered.

Expect more snooping for trash than muscling. “After 15 years, our cleanups have become more maintenance than hard-core cleanup,” cleanup contact Ted Haviland says. “Last year, we managed to take a dozen tires and maybe 50+ bags of trash…from 44 miles of river.” Great job keeping it up, gee whiz!

“You will be walking gravel bars and low water river banks,” Ted says. Or, for the Cousteaus among us, he adds, “Some people may want to bring a snorkel mask and tube to dive the deeper sections of the river. (My favorite part!)”

Locations for cleanup start and registration:

  • Highway Y to Buck Hollow at Highway 17
  • Buck Hollow to Bockers Landing
  • Bockers Landing to Rymers Landing
  • Rymers Landing to Bay Creek
  • Bay Creek to Alley Spring Campground
  • Alley Campground to Highway 19 Eminence Bridge
  • Eminence Bridge to Two Rivers

Or you may clean up one of the Put-in/Take-out areas listed above.

Much ado about canoes: Canoes/kayaks are the responsibility of the participants.  You can bring your own or contact a livery to make shuttle arrangements through them–call for information on Stream Team discounts, which require your Stream Team ID Card. Private shuttles will be arranged for most locations, but no guarantees.

What to bring: As you will be on the river for 5-6 hours, we suggest that you bring a light lunch.  You need to bring plenty of liquids, sun screen insect repellant, and sturdy river footwear. Some may want to bring a snorkel mask and tube to dive the deeper sections of the river. A large floppy hat to keep the sun at bay is advisable too.  A small first-aid kit for nicks & scratches would be good too. 

And some life advice: Sun, heat and alcohol DO NOT mix! Please keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum. This is a cleanup…not a party.

And a celebration at the end: A BBQ supper will be served to all registered participants at the Alley Mill picnic area at 5:00 p.m. There will also be veggie burgers and brats. Drawing for canoes and other prizes to follow. You MUST be present to win!

There will be a group campsite reserved at Alley Spring Campground. Call (417) 932-4363 to reserve a place.

To get stamps on your passport: See Kat Lackman at the aformentioned picnic event!

For more information, call Ted Haviland at (417) 932-4363 or e-mail tphaviland@gmai​

25th-ST_Logo-Color-FinalThe 16th Annual Jacks Fork Cleanup is part of “25 Days of Stream Team” and counts as a stamp on your Stream Team passport. If ya don’t get out on the streams, you can’t win cool prizes. See all past and upcoming events here.


River des Peres: degraded but not forgotten

How can homeowners restore an overlooked ditch into a community’s point of pride? It just takes a little dedication. Stream Team volunteers Ed Shafer and Beth Skelton recently shared the story of the River des Peres Watershed Coalition with Nine Academy in St. Louis. Check out this video by Dan Sherburne, and share your own stories with urban streams in the comments below!


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