In 2014 monthly marking events took place on the first Saturday of each month, weather permitting. We had about 30 volunteers who marked an estimated 300 storm drains over the summer.
An educational flyer describing the importance of no dumping into storm drains was also placed at all residences along the routes where storm drains were marked.
Greenway Network will continue the event in 2015. Anyone can join in the fun! This is a great activity for a small group to do on their own time. Greenway Network makes kits available to community groups and residents.
It is about 9:30 am, on a 55 degree Saturday morning in mid-October, and I am up to my shoulders in Gravois Creek. I have a rope wrapped around a gloved hand, with a paddle in my other hand, pulling a recently submerged canoe, half filled with dumped tires. Welcome to the River des Peres Trash Bash!
Gabe Cotton was one of 350 volunteers who came to the River des Peres Trash Bash, and his awesome blog post about it details every step of the way. We’re thrilled to reprint part of his story here, and happily report that his estimated 40 tires added up to 92 total tires removed, and his bags of trash were part of more than 4.33 tons collected that day. Here’s Gabe’s story, in his own words:
“Walking next to a canoe in the slow moving creek, I was making my way through the water, looking for that unmistakable round silhouette. Reaching down to pull out a tire, then taking a few steps to discover another one. It is a process of popping it loose from the mud, scraping the lodged dirt out from inside it, and then dumping as much water out before setting the tire in the canoe to be taken, after it is filled, downstream to where a group of volunteers was waiting to help load them into a trailer. I had pulled out about 14 tires from a 50 foot stretch of Gravois Creek, decided that was enough for a load, hopped in the canoe and started paddling my way to the people on the bank that were going to do the hard part. It wasn’t 30 seconds on my way that I heard the sound of rushing water. Had I thought about it, I should have stayed out of the canoe, guiding it to our landing point…but I thought that it might be nice to ride my way there, take a minute to sit and be out of the filthy water, and pull in triumphantly with my bounty of rubber and tread. Yeah, one side of the canoe had dipped below the surface due to all the weight in it, and my boat was taking on water.
At that point there is nothing you can do to stop it. It will continue to fill, and I felt that if I could pull it submerged with the air trapped in the upright tires to keep them afloat within its gunwales, I could probably get them all to where I was heading with just a bit more effort than I was planning. And that’s when I hit the deep part.
So there I was, paddle in one hand, rope in the other, swimming through the mucky water of Gravois Creek while pulling a submerged canoe with a trail of floating tires behind me. I had bitten off more tires than I could chew, and learned an embarrassing yet valuable lesson about capacity and enthusiasm that I wasn’t going to forget. Luckily I had a more seasoned veteran than myself by the name of Jay in another canoe following behind me, grabbing all the tires that had escaped. I made it to shore, unloaded the four tires I had left, and then pulled the canoe out and dumped the water, so that I could head right back in to go collect more.
This was my Saturday morning float trip on Gravois Creek in South St. Louis County, and disgusting as it was, it was one of the most satisfying adventures I have had that involved a canoe.
All in all, I estimate that Jay and I pulled probably 40 tires out of about a tenth of a mile of Gravois Creek. And there are still so many tires left.
It is a perverse and irresponsible satisfaction, that exposes one to bacteria and chemicals that we should all stay away from. The hook that gets you is when you see that pile of tires you removed heading down the road in a trailer on their way to their proper resting place, and not in the creek anymore. It makes you really see and feel the impact you can have on the health of a natural place.”
Big thanks to Gabe for giving permission to repost this. Make sure to check out all his writings in his blog, Camping Missouri.
Last week we sang praises of Lee Kern for her killer river guide skills. Now we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive: Lee’s Top 10 Missouri Float Trips. If you’re only going to float ten river stretches in your life, make it these.
The Big Piney is one of my favorite rivers for fishing. Tall bluffs and swift turns on this section make for an enjoyable float that can be done in one day, but also makes for a great overnight trip. The Big Piney is never crowded and always beautiful.
The Huzzah is a popular party float in the summer, but this section is a hidden gem that is only floatable in high water. Lots of obstacles make for a challenging adventure and there is usually a fair amount of wildlife to see.
The Mississippi River is often overlooked by paddlers, but if you are up to the challenge it can be a great time. This section, flowing south from Cape Girardeau, is full of interesting beaches and rocky outcroppings. If the water is low enough you might get to see Commerce Rock, an ancient river map carved by indigenous people a thousand years ago.
Little Piney Creek is best floated in the spring when the water is up. This narrow stream provides plenty of challenges with tight turns and some fallen trees. It is a very pretty float and a great trout stream if you have the time to fish.
The Courtois is another stream that can be crowded in the summer, but a really nice float in the spring. This creek has beautiful scenery and numerous tight turns that can make for a challenging paddle when the water is high.
When the rest of the Meramec is running out of its banks, head upstream to the very first access on the river. This 25-mile stretch of stream makes for a fast and fun paddle in floodwaters, and there is plenty of scenery along the way.
The Jacks Fork is one of the most popular rivers in Missouri, and with good reason. Towering bluffs and crystal clear water make for beautiful scenery that you won’t find outside of the Ozarks. The Prongs are only viable when the water is up, but it is one float that should be on every paddler’s list. This section makes for a great two or three day float with excellent fishing.
My absolute favorite river in Missouri is the Eleven Point. Swift, clear, shockingly cold water makes it my favorite destination in the hot summer months. Plentiful wildlife, many historic springs and great fishing are the hallmarks of this stream. The Eleven Point can often be trickier paddling than it looks, so it is great fun and a beautiful float in every season.
Activities: Work with other volunteers from the City of Columbia to clean up area streams. Date: Saturday, October 10, 2014 Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Place:Various locations around Columbia
What to Expect: Basically the most rockin’ trash bash this side of the Missouri. Mike Heimos, the City of Columbia’s stormwater educator, has been running the show for at least ten years, but he goes so hard he doesn’t pause to count them. The first year he tried a city cleanup, 48 people showed up. Last year? 2,400.
They’re all marching under the banner of the Columbia Crawdads, a city-wide Stream Team that, Heimos says, “has such an amazing following. It just blows my mind.”
A photo posted by Stormwater Columbia Missouri (@stormwatercomo) on
He’s not exaggerating. In addition to collecting more than a ton of trash each Clean Sweep, cleanup groups now hit Columbia streams 2-3 times each month. The Stormwater Education Facebook page has more than 1,300 fans, some of its YouTube videos have thousands of views, and its Instagram cranks out hundreds of photos of the faces and places the Heimos crew works to restore.
What to Do: Well, first and foremost, you have to register. Go do that now and come back to us. We’ll wait…
Ok, so you know where you’re going? You can start showing up there any time after 9:30 A.M. You’ll sign in your group, get your clean up supplies and receive instructions from the Stream Captains. Then you’ll pick up trash! You’ll make new friends! It’ll be great.
What to Bring: Yourself and everyone in your group! All supplies will be provided for at your site – clean up bags, gloves, just about everything you will need. Just make sure you have your toes covered and you’re comfortable in the weather.
A photo posted by Stormwater Columbia Missouri (@stormwatercomo) on
Where you can go from here: “The goal of the Clean Sweep is to let people know they can do cleanups in Columbia as a volunteer opportunity,” Heimos says. “What we’ve found is, we don’t need to do this anymore; Once volunteers come and do it, they realize they can continue throughout the year.” In the past two months, for instance, Heimos has arranged 16 cleanups, and he only had to meet with a quarter of them to get them started. The rest already knew the drill.
“In Columbia, the polluter is us,” Heimos says. “We’re a suburban/urban area, there’s no factory on the hill pumping out pollution. It’s us: motor oil, cigarette butts, pet waste, Shakespeare’s cups, Harpo’s cups, plastic spoons and straws.”
So now’s your chance to turn “people pollution” into “people solutions.” Go sweep the Hinkson clean, and let us know how it goes!
You might think you have float trips down to a science, and perhaps a lot of you do. But in a society that’s more rife with “social media specialists” than “mountain men,” I’d say the world still needs some guides. Like Colin Fletcher, for instance; Have you heard of him? Known as “the grandfather of backpacking,” and revered by adventurers worldwide, his writings were part poetry, part prose and part guidebook. Over the years, I’ve found myself thinking, “It sure would be nice to have a Colin Fletcher figure here in good old Missouri.”
Well guess what: we do! There’s a blog called FLLOG that does much the same thing: beautiful descriptions and pictures of river floats, peppered with comments on gear, logistics and “critter counts.” They’ve logged more than 100 river floats in and around Missouri, and each trip is worth a thorough read. In honor of our upcoming Anniversary Float Trip, the good authors of FLLOG agreed to share past tales of the Current River. Here’s the first one, from an anniversary celebration of their own:
Cedar Grove to Two Rivers
Shannon County, Missouri
Wednesday, September 28 – Thursday, September 29
In celebration of our wedding anniversary, DW and I completed our first overnight kayak trip. After all, what is more romantic than sleeping on a gravel bar? We had spent the previous weekend dragging out all our backpacking gear, which hadn’t been used in almost 6 years, sorting and packing it all into small dry bags. We packed the boats and did a test run on the Meramec near home. Everything seemed to fit well and the boats were well balanced, so we unpacked it all into the car and headed down to the Current River for our first overnight trip with kayaks. We hadn’t floated the Current in nearly 2 years. Back when we only had the canoe we had done a couple week-long trips down to Van Buren, so we are pretty familiar with the Current when it comes to overnight trips. We scheduled a car shuttle from the outfitter at Two Rivers. It was a little pricey, but the drive from Cedar Grove to the take out is over an hour long. Once we got to the access we repacked everything in the kayaks.
DW took the red Perception kayak instead of his regular blue kayak. His blue Perception Montour is very narrow and can’t hold much. The red Perception Prodigy is very wide and there is plenty of room in the front and back to stuff a bunch of gear. My Dagger Axis 10.5 turned out to be nearly perfect for overnight packing. There was plenty of room in the front to slide long things (extra paddle, camp seat and several small bags) and the sealed hull held a lot more than I thought it would. I did have to be careful to balance the front and back of the boat so both ends turned at the same rate. Otherwise the front would turn quickly while the back just sat there. We also bought a bunch more small fabric dry bags. The regular vinyl dry bags are hard to stuff into small spaces (too much friction against the plastic boat) and the fabric ones work well as long as you don’t submerge them in water for a long time.
The biggest hurdle to overnight kayaking is alcohol. You really can’t pack much beer on a kayak and drinking hard alcohol all day can turn into a kayak-flipping disaster. We decided two days at a time was feasible to carry beer. If we did more than two days we would carry hard alcohol and soda and just not drink as much and start drinking late in the day. Of course you could always decided to not drink at all, but that would eliminate most of the challenge!
We launched our boats from Cedar Grove at 11am on Wednesday morning. It was a little later than we wanted to start, but still feasible to make it to our halfway point, Pulltite Spring 18 miles downriver. When we tested our boats at home we did not have all the food & beer packed, so the kayaks were a little more heavy than we anticipated. So now we’re paddling heavy boats 18 miles in 7 hours. Better paddle hard!
Our first stop was at Medlock Spring. Medlock is a small spring that gushes from tiny opening in the rocks and tumbles down to the river. There is also a cave up above the spring opening, but we did not explore as we had 16 miles left to paddle.
Two miles down from Medlock is Welch Spring. Welch Spring is in the top 10 of Missouri’s largest springs and has a powerful flow. The spring gushes out of a cave opening and runs into the river with such force that it overtakes the current of the stream. Welch spring was originally homesteaded in 1855 by Thomas Welch, who then ran a grist mill on the spring until the turn of the 20th century. Then it was bought by Dr. Diehl in 1913. Dr. Diehl built a hospital over an opening in the cave and planned to attract patients suffering from breathing ailments to the healing spring waters and cave vapors. His project never really took off as the roads in the Ozarks were little more than rough trails at the time and it was hard to attract patients to the middle of nowhere. The walls of the hospital building still stand at the edge of the spring. It’s neat to wander around the building and imagine what it would have been like to be treated for consumption in the middle of the wilderness in 1915.
Three miles down from Welch is Akers Ferry. This is the last operational ferry in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. There is also an access and camp store on the left side of the river. The ferry runs during daylight hours and is only $4 per vehicle to cross. It has been in operation for over 50 years but I have only seen it running once so I don’t think it gets too much traffic these days.
When we monitor streams, we give a lot of love to the Macroinvertebrates, but skeletal creatures indicate water quality, too! Here’s a roundup of trials and comebacks our fish buddies have gone through lately. Check out these links; You might be suprised what you learn.
Brave New Fish. Nancy Gross reports a curious new finding on the Water Effiency editor’s blog :
A study published by researchers at Umeå University “showed that remnants of oxazepam, a drug used for anxiety, resulted in braver and more curious activity among normally timid fish. Individuals exposed to the drug examined their surroundings more freely than normally,” the Helsinki Times recently recently reported.
It is a sign of troubling times in America’s largest estuary, even in the midst of an aggressive anti-pollution effort that is in its fourth year. The bay is beset by man-made waste and overfishing. And it is laced with diseases that take the lives of countless oysters and striped bass and with chemicals that are changing the sex of male smallmouth bass.
But the sturgeon is a sign that the bay can recover. And even though the numbers of striped bass are down, they’re not at the historic lows of the mid-1980s, when several states were forced to halt fishing to help them recover.
The less threatening nature of the grass carp gives various state, federal, and provincial agencies from around the Great Lakes a unique opportunity to practice for what would be a true emergency: the establishment of silver or bighead carp in Lake Erie or other Great Lakes waterways.
Decades ago, the international caviar market was on the verge of collapse. In the years leading up to and following the demise of the Soviet Union, beluga sturgeon in the Caspian Sea were overfished. By the late ’80s, they were on the verge of extinction and became a protected species. Demand for the delicacy remained high, supply plummeted and prices soared.
Half a world away in the Missouri Ozarks, Jim Kahrs, Steve and Pete’s father, saw that as an opportunity and became one of the early players in the American caviar market, turning his family-run fishery into an international caviar exporter.
Got any fish news of your own? Leave us a comment on this post! But please — no fishing tales.
Seriously, when I wrote about this event back in August, I failed to reflect on those crazy numbers. I just thought, “looks like they have it under control.” No kidding. Here are the results:
-2,225 volunteers donated more than 7,000 hours of their time
- 9,000 lbs. of metal was removed making our waterways a safer place to float, swim, and fish
- 6 large construction dumpsters were filled to the brim with trash from our waterways
- 2,481tires were removed from the watershed
In a newsletter recently published, the Open Space Council had these praises and thanks to the St. Louis community:
Even with temperatures of 100+ degrees, thousands of volunteers came out to lend their time and talent to restoring the Meramec Watershed. The event has become a St. Louis tradition, with generations of families participating together to help the local environment.
Volunteers represented a variety of ages and backgrounds and represented corporate green teams, religious groups, boy and girl scouts, canoe and kayak organizations, and many more.
We cannot thank the community enough for their support of this project. It could not be done without all of you!
Once again, here’s a warm welcome to the MObugs blog genius Shelly Cox . She’s been kind enough to share some of her writing on aquatic insects with the whole Stream Team community. Go check out her blog, which features really beautiful, exclusive photos, and a lot of insider knowledge on the whole bug community.
This past 4th of July we spent an evening at the farm. We enjoyed a cookout, great friends and fireworks. The kids swam in the pond and soon discovered mussels underfoot. They grabbed up hundreds of them and placed them in a 5 gallon bucket. They were having fun finding them. I decided I wanted to try and cook some. So I kept 20 or so, and threw the rest back into the pond. I brought the mussels home and soaked them in water for a few hours, and then sauteed them in butter, onion and some seasoning. They were not near as good as I had hoped for. They maintained a muddy taste from the muddy bottom of the pond. I suppose if I had soaked them for a longer period to time it could have helped. If anyone has prepared these with success, please let me in on the secret.
As you can see the kids were having fun diving for mussels in our pond. What a great way to spend a hot summer day!
There are hundreds of fresh water mussels in the World, and nearly 300 of them live in North America. In fact North America is home to the largest variety of mussels compared to anywhere else in the World. Many are in threat of becoming endangered, in fact the estimate is as high as 3/4 of the known species may be in peril. As many as 35 species have already gone extinct. The Midwestern portion of the United States contains the highest concentration of species, Missouri alone is home to some 65 species. Native Americans utilized mussels as an important part of their diet. Not only were they a valuable food source for tribes throughout the Midwest, but they also held value in other ways. The shells were used for tempering pottery and tools, they also made jewelry, and utensils. In the late 1800’s “white man” recognized the potential value of the shells in the fashion industry. The button industry reached a boon during this time in history and many mussels were collected for the “mother-of-pearl” and sold to the button factories. The epicenter for the button industry was right in the good old Midwest. Continue reading Everything you need to know about the Midwest’s fresh water mussels→
All meals Friday dinner through Sunday lunch are provided.
We’ll also give you your own straw hat and dry bag.
If you’re a little uneasy in a canoe, we’re giving paddling lessons on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
Pets and alcohol are not allowed.
No personal canoes! Relax and let us take care of everything for you.
Friday evening: Check in at Pulltite campground, set up camp, and see a program on Stream Team history at the ampitheatre. After your bout of inspiration, network and relax by the campfire.
Saturday: Check-in continues and breakfast is served. Starting at 9, we’ll load up and launch groups of floaters 20 minutes apart. Stop at a gravel bar with your box lunch, and be sure to pull off near Cave Spring for a Fish Shocking Demonstration! See fish that get pulled up, maybe even net some!
That night, it’s dinner, campfire networking, and if you’re feeling confident, you can bring out your musical instruments!
Sunday: After launching at 8 a.m., stop for another gravel bar lunch, and then see a water quality demonstration near Round Spring. We’ll get you off the river by 2-3 in the afternoon, when you can get shuttled back to Pulltite and pack up.
Details will be in the packet we send to registered Stream Teamers. Register online here by September 16 to reserve your canoe!