All posts by Tina Casagrand

8th-generation Missourian. Curious writer. Community volunteer. Hopes to one day see a jackalope, but will settle for an ocelot.

Roubidoux Fly Fishers Cleanup

The Roubidoux Fly Fishers are Stream Team #1. As in, the first. As in, the founders. So this big celebration we’ve been having all year, for the 25th anniversary? It’s kind of like we’re celebrating the Roubidoux Fly Fishers at the same time.

Team leader Lou Runnals knows that, and she wanted to make this birthday special. So for the team’s cleanup, Lou got a cake. Not cookies. A cake. And it was delicious. And it was pretty. And it was a perfect way to end a long day out cleaning the river.

See, not only was Stream Team #1 there for their cleanup, but their friends in teams #3660, #27, #1523, #13, #3481, #4203 came to help. And the Navy Seabees? They were there too. In total, 71 volunteers turned out to clean up the Roubidoux.

They got a water heater. They got 17 tires. They got crawdad traps. But surprisingly, Lou says, they didn’t find all the trash they expected to wash in from a flood last year. It must have gone downstream to the Gasconade.

The Fly Fishers also got a lot of help from Saint Robert businesses. Lay-Z-Day Canoes loaned out a whole rack of canoes. Zeigenbein Sanitation donated dumpsters. A transfer station in Saint Robert accepted trash and Big O accepted tires without charging a penny, and Wal-Mart kicked in a donation toward food. Stream Team Program biologist (and Roubidoux Fly Fishers co-founder) Mark Van Patten got a grant that covered the rest of the event’s cost.

While this was the biggest community event our founding team hosted this year, they also help with other efforts, including a community service day with the local Brownies troop and attending other teams’ cleanups on rivers such as the Big Piney.

So Roubidoux Fly Fishers, for all your work in the last 25 years, we salute you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. May your waders never leak and you always have a tight line! Adieu.

Lakeside Nature Center has 185 new trees thanks to Stream Team volunteers

When nine adults and six kids came to the habitat restoration event this April, they left the Lakeside Nature Center transformed, with 185 new trees in the ground:

  • 10 redbud
  • 50 deciduous holly
  • 50 wild plum
  • 25 smooth sumac
  • 50 witch hazel

It looks like a lot of work, but we suspect they were having some fun as well. Lookit those smiles!

Good luck to all those baby trees. May you have healthy, productive lives. And a huge thank-you to the volunteers who came out and Larry O’Donnell of the Little Blue River Watershed Coalition for hosting this 25th Anniversary event!

Go read about the efforts of our 25+ events on the Events Page.

300 storm drains in St. Charles County are now a little bit smarter

Greenway Network is working with St. Charles County Department of Health and Environment to get 9,000 storm drains marked in unincorporated St Charles County.

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.

Look for more information about dates and times for 2015 events on the Greenway Network webpage.

Niangua River cleanup: 3 truckloads of trash, 80 businesses and 180 volunteers

The Niangua River cleanup has an inspiring backstory, and this year’s event near Bennett Spring State Park really followed through on nearly ten years of service. Organizer Carl Romesburg shared the community effort’s stats:

  • We had more than 180 registered volunteers, not counting the bus drivers, canoe loaders, cooks, food servers and of course the folks who work so hard to organize this event.
  • We had more than 80 businesses in Laclede, Dallas and Camden counties donate everything from food to prizes.
  • We have 6 outfitters who donate the buses, canoes and their time to support the cleanup:
  • We picked up about 3 huge truckloads of trash.

This picture only shows a small amount of the volunteers. Most were still out on the river.

Greenway Network monitors every place a road crosses Dardenne Creek

photos by Bob Virag, Stream Team volunteer
words by Larry Ruff, Greenway Network 

Dardenne Creek is 27 miles long.  It originates in Warren County, flows northwest through St. Charles County and empties into the Mississippi River directly north of St. Peters.  It is a pretty creek in its headwaters–Ozarkian in nature.

ST 463 Dardenne Day 10-12-14-A little rain doesn't stop us!
Monica Hull, Larry Ruff, and Matt Hull kick around looking for macroinvertebrates on October 12, 2014. A little rain doesn’t stop us!

In the ’20s and ’30s, farmers channelized the creek in the flatter regions of the county. Those farms have become hundreds of subdivision neighborhoods. It crosses I-70 at St. Peters and runs through he Mississippi River floodplain. Every where a road crosses the creek, Greenway Network tries to monitor that site.

Lindenwood Univ student volunteers
Lindenwood University students enjoying lunch provided by Greenway Network after the stream monitoring.
Gail Johnston ST 2819 & Larry Ruff ST 463
Gail Johnston is a Biology instructor at Lindenwood University (ST 2819) in St. Charles and always brings students to Dardenne Day.

We’ve been doing Dardenne Day for at least 14 years. Monitoring takes place in the Spring and the Fall. This year, Dardenne Day was part of 25 Days of Stream Team.

In the Spring: 19 sites on the creek were monitored by 29 volunteers, 9 different Stream Teams.

In the Fall: 16 sites monitored by 10 volunteers, 5 Stream Teams.

Curious about how all these site visits turned out? Download results here and see for yourself! Macro ratings ranged from 0 to 25, pH hovered around 8.2, and they even logged e. coli numbers. Very interesting.

If you want to get involved with Dardenne Day or any of the other great events put on all year by Greenway Network, visit their website.

Snail Case Maker Caddisfly (Helicopsychidae)
Snail Case Maker Caddisfly (Helicopsychidae)

 

Wintry Stream Scene (or, “Send us your old pictures, please!”)

We think it’s finally wintry enough to share this beautiful Polaroid photo from 1998. Happy Throwback Thursday, Stream Teamers.

Jefferson County _ Steve McClanahan

Hey, this is like Instagram, but really really old. ;) This gem is from a creek in Jefferson County, taken by Steve McClanahan.

Do you have a Throwback photo of a stream in Missouri? Send it our way. We’d love to get a little gallery going.

Lee Kern’s Top Ten Missouri Float Trips

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.

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Lee Kern, everybody! Being a total rockstar.
Lee Kern, everybody! Being a total rockstar.

My Top Ten Missouri Float Trips
By Lee Kern

#10 – Meramec River: Onondaga State Park to Sappington Bridge

This section of the Meramec is one of my favorites. With tall bluffs and quiet countryside it makes for a peaceful float that is not far from St. Louis.

#9 – Big Piney River: Slabtown to Ross Bridge

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.

#8 – Huzzah Creek: Dillard Mill to Hwy. Z

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.

#7 – Mississippi River: Red Star to Commerce

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.

Courtois Creek flows into the Huzzah.
Courtois Creek flows into the Huzzah.

#6 – Little Piney Creek: Lane Spring to Newburg

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.

#5 – Courtois Creek: Berryman to Onondaga State Park

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.

#4 – North Fork of the White River: Hammond Camp to James Bridge

The North Fork is a jewel of the Ozarks. With numerous springs and clear, cold water, this trip makes for an excellent day on the river, especially in the heat of the summer.

#3 – Meramec River: Short Bend to Woodson K. Woods

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.

Lookit this cute little turtle.
Lookit this cute little turtle.

#2 – Jacks Fork River: The Prongs to Alley Mill

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.

#1 – Eleven Point River: Cane Bluff to Myrtle

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.

Hinkson Clean Sweep is this Saturday, October 11

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.”

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.

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!

For more information: Peruse the “Clean Sweeper’s Rules.” or email volunteer@GoColumbiaMo.com.

25th-ST_Logo-Color-FinalThis is one of your last chances at Stream Team 25th Anniversary greatness. So enjoy the fall day, get those last stamps on your passport, and look forward to cool prizes!

FLLOG beat us to an Anniversary Float (but now we’re even more excited)

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

Current River
Shannon County, Missouri
Wednesday, September 28 – Thursday, September 29
44 Miles

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.

current river, kayak overnight

current river, cedar grove

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!

current river

current river, medlock spring

medlock spring, current river

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.

current river, welch spring

current river, welch spring

current river

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.

current river, akers ferry

current river, akers ferry

current river, blue heron Continue reading FLLOG beat us to an Anniversary Float (but now we’re even more excited)

One Fish, Two Fish, Brave Fish, Tasty Fish. Lots of fish news this week.

photo from Michigan Sea Grant

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


Good: sturgeon return. Bad: rockfish fall. Ugly: a killer plant comes back to the bay. Washington Post’s Darryl Fears outlines the perils of living in Chesapeake Bay:

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.


Great Lakes States to Track Asian Carp and Prepare for Future Invasions. Kaye LaFond of freshwater news source Circle of Blue reports:

 

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.


Battle over caviar production rages in Missouri, Oklahoma. Published earlier this year, but no less timely, Al Jazeera ran this story by Missouri’s own Ryan Schuessler:

 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.