All posts by hollyneill

River des Peres Trash Bash: how it feels to make a four-ton impact

photos by Gabe Cotton

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, “Stream Team Adventures: My Gravois Creek float trip at the Trash Bash! 10/18/2014” on Camping Missouri

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.

2014-10-22 15.49.26So 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.

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Race for the Rivers (and other stuff, too!) is August 23

Logo_R4R_no_dateActivities: Paddle races, bike rides and races and a big environmental and outdoors festival.
Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Time: Registration opens at 8:30 a.m., Festival starts at 11:00 a.m.
Place: Frontier Park, (850 Riverside Drive) in historic St. Charles

What to expect: Whether you’re an avid paddler looking to get in on a competitive river race, or simply in search of laid-back family fun, Race for the Rivers 2014 is the event you’ve been searching for! With water education, restoration and recreation as the focus, The Greenway Network is set to stage their eighth annual Missouri River paddling event on the weekend of August 23, 2014. A drawing will also be held for a new Chevy Sonic donated by Poage Chevrolet.

greenwaynetworkIt’s for a good cause: The Race for the Rivers is the primary fundraising event for Greenway Network, an all-volunteer organization promoting clean water through research, restoration, education and recreation programs. Each year, Greenway Network helps remove tons of trash, plants thousands of native plants and puts hundreds of people on the water to experience our great rivers first hand. 

Directions:

 

For more information: Visit www.racefortherivers.org

25th-ST_Logo-Color-Final(white-center)Race your favorite vessel or attend the festival to get your very own stamp on your very own Stream Team 25th Anniversary Passport. We’ll give you a cooler once you attend five events, and for every event you go to, we’ll enter your name to win a kayak or other prizes. Too bad you can’t race it this year, but there’s always next year…

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!

Onsite Septic Wastewater Workshop is May 31

photo by Soil Science @ NC State

Activity: Workshop on Onsite Septic Wastewater
Date: Saturday, May 31, 2014 (*register by May 28!)
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Place: MDC Central Office, 2901 West Truman Boulevard, Jefferson City, MO

What to expect: Learn about onsite wastewater treatment (a.k.a. “septic”) systems from the state’s experts. The Department of Natural Resources often gets asked, “Who regulates domestic wastewater in Missouri?” The answer is, different state and local agencies! There’s a lot to learn about this subject that’s rarely discussed. Become a local expert through this workshop!

Class size is limited and seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Lunch will be on your own. You will receive a confirmation letter with detailed information about the workshop including an agenda, map to the workshop location, and hotel and restaurant information after you register.

To register, or for more information: Please contact Susan Higgins at (573) 526-1002 or susan.higgins@d​nr.mo.gov by May 28, 2014.

25th-ST_Logo-Color-FinalThis is the first academy featured as a Stream Team 25th Anniversary event, but it won’t be the last! Keep your peepers peeled for a workshop on conducting a litter pickup, too! But that’s not all–Stream Team runs a lot of workshops to further your education all the time. Learn more here.

Happy Stormwater Awareness Month!

Photo from Chesapeake Bay Program

May is Stormwater Awareness Month! Non-point source pollution, or water contaminants from multiple or hard-to-identify sources,  can cause a lot of problems in streams.

Unfortunately, Missouri streams are no exception. Urban runoff carries pollutants such as oil, dirt, chemicals, and lawn fertilizers directly to streams and rivers, while agricultural runoff can include sediment, nutrients, pathogens, pesticides, metals, and salts.

While regulations are helping to curb these impacts, you can certainly help by doing your part. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Take time out to stencil storm drains, install a rain barrel or rain garden at your home, school, or business.
  • Cleanup after your car when it spills oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, or other substances.
  • Go to a car wash or wash your car over grass or gravel instead of on the pavement (why this is important).
  • Educate your community about the connection between stormwater and streams.

Do you have other tips for preventing stormwater runoff? Tell us in the comments!

It’s on! Old-fashioned debate about Ozark National Scenic Riverways is set for May 3

On May 3, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and Missouri state Representative Chris Kelly will square off on the courthouse steps of Shannon County in Eminence, Mo., to discuss the future management of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. It’s an old-school debate that started in a very new-school way: through exchanges on Twitter. Rudi Keller of the Columbia Tribune reports:

The Kelly-Kinder debate sprang from a Twitter exchange in February on the day Kinder participated in a news conference calling for state control. Kelly, taking aim at the idea, wrote that it would go “back the way it was … with Dodge trucks caught in the rootwads. The oil in the water made neat rainbows.”

The issue is not whether to allow unlimited development or allow “Dodge trucks caught in the rootwads,” Kinder said. “That is a straw man and unworthy of a serious argument. No one wants to go back to that. It is how best to preserve these glittering jewels of God’s creation in the Ozarks.”

Read more…

At issue are values around the economics and ecology of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways – particularly the conservation, preservation and recreation of this important recreation area. We encourage Stream Teamers to keep up with this ever-evolving story. In past weeks, we have covered legislative action potentially allowing the state to take control over national land. Recently, Jennifer Davidson of KSMU in Springfield covered the issue in a two-part series, and this debate is yet another chapter.

If you plan to attend:

  • Who: The public is invited to attend this debate between Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and state Representative Chris Kelly
  • What: The politicians will discuss the future management of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
  • When: Saturday, May 3 at 11 a.m.
  • Where: Eminence, Mo., Shannon County courthouse steps (alternative rain sites TBA — you can probably just ask around town once you get there)
  • Why: Stay informed of the rhetoric surrounding this important issue. And be entertained! This is what our great-great grandparents did for fun, so pack your popcorn and join in a great American tradition.

Update: Brigit Bowden reported on this event for KBIA.

Issue Update: ONSR state takeover no longer in budget

Last month, we sent an issue alert concerning proposed legislation that would affect future management of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. We asked you to voice your opinion, and now the issue is resolved. Thank you for your input. 

 

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee stripped the $6 million appropriation for a state takeover of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways from the fiscal year 2015 budget. Senators and Representatives voiced various concerns over the bill. Read the full article by Alex Stuckey on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 

We have previously written about the proposed budget and an update on the House vote and move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Other, active bills related to the ONSR include:

  • SCR 22, which urges the National Park Service to not take action on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways general management plan, and for the Department of the Interior to negotiate the return of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways to the state. It passed the Senate on February 20 and referred to the House Committee on Tourism and Natural Resources on April 1.
     
  • HB 2294, which provides for the sale of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways to certain private parties in the event the United States Secretary of the Interior conveys such property to the state. This bill is sponsored by Jeff Pogue and was introduced April 1 and read a second time April 2.
     
  • HCR 9, which strongly urges the National Park Service to draft its final General Management Plan for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways to recognize the importance the riverways provides to the state.

-1One goal of the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition is to encourage advocacy among the Stream Team Community. One way we do this is by sending out Issue Alerts that will give your Team the opportunity to voice an opinion regarding issues related to protection of our water resources.

Issue Update: ONSR Bill at Senate Appropriations Committee

[EDITOR UPDATE: See the final outcome of this bill.]

The Ozark National Scenic Riverways bill, HB 2006, passed the Senate’s Second Reading and has been sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to voice your opinion on the maintenence of the Riverways in the state park budget and transferring the Riverways from the National Park to the Missouri State Park system.

Here’s a brief history of the bill:

  • February 6 – Bill is first introduced by Representative Rick Stream.
  • February 10  – Bill is referred to the Budget Committee
  • March 12 – Bill is referred to Rules Committee
  • March 27 – Bill is read a final time in the House and passed with 110 yes votes and 40 no votes [see how your representatives voted]. It is introduced and read the first time at the Senate.
  • March 31 – Bill is read a second time in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Senate-Appropriations

Details of HB 2006 can be found here, and you can read here for more about the legislative process.

Learn more about all proposed regulation changes in Missouri state government

-1One goal of the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition is to encourage advocacy among the Stream Team Community. One way we do this is by sending out Issue Alerts that will give your Team the opportunity to voice an opinion regarding issues related to protection of our water resources.

7 Reasons to do Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring

Happy Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring month! Did you remember to send a card to your favorite VWQM coordinator?

March is the perfect time to break into water quality monitoring. Spring is in the air, the weather’s getting milder, and workshops are popping up like mushrooms . . . well-planned, educational mushrooms that give you food and free equipment.

Other than a solid excuse to get outdoors, monitoring streams is a rewarding act of citizen science. We’ve compiled some reasons to get involved. If you think of more, please leave us a comment at the bottom of the page!

1. For a few magic hours, you get to be a SCIENTIST.

DSCF0905Hey, life takes us on lots of turns. Maybe you’re an artist who enjoys seeing the seasons change. Maybe you’re an investment banker who had a blast as a kid playing with science kits. Maybe water quality monitoring is your job, but you love your job, so you just want to do more of it.

If you give Stream Team one or two weekends of your time, we will make you all into scientists. You will learn about macroinvertebrates (all the little bugs that call your favorite stream “home”), hydrology (the movement of water), water chemistry (how to identify pollutants), and physical monitoring (assessing the plants and pavement around your site). You can spread the knowledge (show off) to friends and family when you monitor, or even just as you hang out on a sandbar during your next float trip. But that’s not all… Continue reading 7 Reasons to do Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring

Issue Alert: Ozark National Scenic Riverways Face Changes

[EDITOR UPDATE: See the final outcome of this bill.]

The House Budget Committee this Wednesday is considering a proposed appropriation of $6 million from “surplus revenue fund” and whatever else is needed from the Park Sales Tax for operation and maintenance of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) in the event this national park is transferred to the state, as requested in other bills currently under consideration in the Missouri General Assembly and the U.S. Congress.

The transfer would have impacts on the State of Missouri and we encourage all Stream Teams to become informed on this issue and voice your opinion.

Call or email your state representative and senator and especially members of the House Budget Committee (see list below) by noon Wednesday and voice your opinion on the maintenance of the Riverways in the state park budget (HB2006HCS,p20) and transferring the Riverways from the National Park to the state park system.

You can VOICE your opinion by:

  • Calling Kirkwood Republican Representative Rick Stream, (573) 751-4069, House Budget Committee Chair, and voice your opinion about the Ozark National Scenic Riverways being transferred from the National Park to the state and utilization of the state park budget to maintain the Riverways.
  • Call your State Senator and voice your opinion about the Ozark National Scenic Riverways being transferred from the National Park to the state and utilization of the state park budget to maintain the Riverways.

Call your State Representatives, especially the House Budget Committee, and voice your opinion about the Ozark National Scenic Riverways being transferred from the National Park to the state and utilization of the state park budget to maintain the Riverways.

Learn more about all proposed regulation changes in Missouri state government

-1One goal of the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition is to encourage advocacy among the Stream Team Community. One way we do this is by sending out Issue Alerts that will give your Team the opportunity to voice an opinion regarding issues related to protection of our water resources.