Category Archives: Kansas City/Central/North Region

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.


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

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!

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.

Caddisfly larvae: hippie homesteaders of the streams

Let’s review your friends and acquaintances. They mostly live in houses, take regular showers, enjoy the occasional dinner out, and go with the societal flow, right? 

But you know that guy…

That guy . . .

The one who constructed a home out of logs he cut himself and Styrofoam chunks he pulled off a riverbank? Who eats only what’s in season and criticizes places with too much pollution? And that same person, when they’re not surveying the back 40, probably occupies himself with crafts like spinning his own thread or making jewelry . . . got that image in mind?

See, if you lived in a stream, “that guy” would be a caddisfly larva.

In fact, it’s kind of hard to tell the two apart . . .caddisfly infographic


Your hair is everywhere: First off, the caddisfly order Trichoptera is Greek for ‘hairy wing,’ and you knowww how the treehugger type loves being hairy. The Caddis part means cotton or silk; in Elizabethan era, “caddice men” (vendors of ribbons, braids, etc.) pinned their goods on their coats.

Casemaker, homesteader, potato potahto: When these creatures spin a silk case or cocoon around themselves, they also tie on nearby debris — sand, rock, twigs, leaf pieces, shells. The cases are functional, allowing water in and out over the larval gills. They’re sturdy, sometimes weighing the creatures down in the current.

In a couple of years, the caddisflies’ descendants will point to those little cases trembling in the riffle and say, “My grandfather built this house with his own six hands, with material right from this stream!” Everyone will be impressed.

Equal rights for every invertebrate! There’s a sad side to this industrious behavior. As often happens in global markets, so too are humans are exploiting caddisflies for commercial purposes. In this case, to make jewelry at a high markup. Artists just plop the little larvae in an aquarium filled with gold flakes, pearls, and precious stones, and the caddisflies do the rest. We have to admit, the results are pretty stunning:


Can I have the reverse osmosis water, please?: Another value of the caddisflies is their exacting taste in water. According to this Biomonitoring Macroinvertebrates site, “They breathe dissolved oxygen by diffusion across their soft tissues, and they have a limited ability to cope with low dissolved oxygen by wiggling their bodies within their cases. However, they lack the ability to breathe atmospheric oxygen that some other more tolerant insects have.”

So if you find a caddisfly larva in your stream, congratulations! You have a stream worthy of an eco-snob’s standards. I know I was excited when I spotted this little guy at Clifty Creek Conservation Area in Dixon in February:

Take it easy, man: Finally, it’s just easy to admire the caddisfly larva’s mellow take on life. When it comes to building houses, they work with what they’ve got. They eat what food’s available to them and are willing to change their munching style to do so. They can live in ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, whatever’s fresh. And they are willing and accepting, for goodness sake, to completely metamorphose into an entirely new body at the simple change of a season. Enlightened? Check. Good head on their shoulders? Check. Ain’t nothing wrong with being a hippie, Mr. Caddisfly. You keep on doin’ you.

More information

The Beginner’s Guide to Caddis

Bug Guide on Trichoptera’s 1,350+ species

 P.S. – Huge thanks to Mark Haim for letting us use his image in this graphic. And thanks to the caddisfly, too, wherever you are.

“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​

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.

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​ 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.

Lessons from Wears Creek: don’t wait on others to make a difference

It’s easy to laud Stream Team efforts as “massive,” “animalistic,” or even “folk anthropology.” But what about “disheartening?”

Take this one Earth Day event, for instance.  the trash haul from the Serve Jeff City Cleanup on Wears Creek was impressive: about 73 volunteers rescued 2,000 pounds of trash from one of the capital city’s most prominent waterways. “Just from what I witnessed being pulled out of the stream, we removed a hula hoop, baby highchair, lots of glass (I mean LOTS), rebar, tires, and the usual fast food trash, water bottles, and cans,” says coordinator April Perry.

And while that’s awesome, celebrating these efforts wasn’t the only thing on volunteers’ minds that day. They also left a lot of trash behind. 

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Photos from the Millbottom site near West High Street and Missouri Boulevard at the Serve Jeff City Cleanup on Wears Creek.

It’s true, there’s a bit of a gloomy side to this whole Stream Team business, and the sad mood can strike newbies and veterans alike. That’s what April found when she talked with the volunteers:

“Most of them see the condition of Wears Creek on a daily basis and wonder why it doesn’t get cleaned up. They were very happy to see this cleanup scheduled and executed. But they are still disheartened by the amount of trash they just couldn’t get to since it was so abundant.”

And then April wondered, “Why so much despair?”

Any concerned citizens can adopt waterways in his or her city. If you’re reading this and interested in learning how, you can call Stream Team to get started, read about running litter pick-ups in this brochure or even attend a workshop titled, “How to Conduct a Litter Pick-up,” scheduled for later this year.

But if that’s too much commitment, hey, picking up trash can be as simple as picking up trash. 

“It’s the volunteers who help clean up these waterways,” April says.  And they don’t need to wait for the city to hold a huge event. If someone sees trash, they can pick it up! It doesn’t require 100 other people and an organizer.”

“I can’t help by think about the Lorax,” April says, “but it’s so true!”

So if you don’t like seeing trash in water, take the trash out of the water! And once you start rolling, ask friends to join in; This is how movements get started, people! And it can start right now with Stream Team.

25th-ST_Logo-Color-Final(white-center)The Wears Creek Cleanup was an Earth Day event, part of “25 Days of Stream Team,” a series of events celebrating the work of volunteers over the past quarter-century. If you missed the Earth Day cleanups, there are still plenty of opportunities to join the party and even win prizes! Why not start with storm drain stenciling, which takes place every first Saturday of each month?

It’s Earth Day! Get out and celebrate all around Missouri

photo by Flickr user Ostrosky Photography

Happy Earth Day, Stream Teamers! It’s a beautiful day in the Show-Me State, so you’re spending quality time with Mother Nature. Actually, you should get outside right now! Go on! This blog post will wait right here…

Gee, wasn’t that neat? Now, if you want to commune with your fellow humans to celebrate the Earth, we have some suggestions for that, too. Here’s a quick overview of Earth Day festivals and events taking place in cities all over the state.  (Bonus: Missouri State Parks have hikes and celebrations planned as well.)

Scroll down for info on how to get a stamp on your Stream Team Anniversary Passport for attending one of these events or even just doing something yourself.

If you know of some more activities this week, please leave us a comment below!



Columbia Area Earth Day Festival: It’s one of the oldest Earth Day festivals in the state and includes a vibrant street fair, kids’ park,  earthy entertainment and educational talks throughout the day.

Details: Sunday, April 27, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. in downtown Columbia near Peace Park

Jefferson City

edaylogoMissouri Department of Natural Resources Earth Day Celebration: The Department of Natural Resources is determined to make this 20th anniversary of a capitol Earth Day the best ever, with a  Teachers’ Resource Room, live presentations, hands-on crafts from recycled materials, and more exhibitors than ever before.

Bonus: Stream Team will have a booth here. Come say hello!

Details: Friday, April 25, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the Capitol Lawn 

Kansas City

Check out a Native Plant Sale on April 26 at The City Market. Photo by Van Wiskur from the Missouri Prairie Foundation.
Check out a Native Plant Sale on April 26 at The City Market. Photo by Van Wiskur from the Missouri Prairie Foundation.

Hopefully you made it to last weekend’s early Earth Day events at Powell Gardens and the Kansas City Zoo. If not, no worries! This week, the city is ripe with things to green up your life and community. For instance, today is Keep Kansas City Beautiful’s big Electronics Recycling event at the Sprint Center. There’s a talk about “Sacred Waters: the Middle Missouri & Central Prairie Freshwater Ecoregions” tomorrow, and Saturday will see a volunteer community cleanup, an ecological restoration project in Swope Park, a compost giveaway in Overland Park, and a native plant sale at The City Market.

You can find more Kansas City environmental event information now and throughout the year at Greenability Magazine’s events calendar.


Dickerson Park Zoo is hosting a Party for the Planet with ‘green’ activities and animals hunting for Easter eggs. What a hoot!

Details: Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Dickerson Park Zoo

St. Louis

sled-logo-new@2xEnjoy three stages of entertainment, learn about sustainable products and services offered by local businesses, meet area non-profits that share the mission of Earth Day, and participate in a variety of hands-on educational activities for this multipart event.

Earth Day Eve: Saturday, April 26, 2014
4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at The Muny at McKinley Dr. & Pagoda Cir., Forest Park

Recycling Extravaganza: Sunday, April 27, 2014
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at St. Louis Community College – Forest Park Campus, off Oakland Avenue

Earth Day Festival: Sunday, April 27, 2014
11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Muny grounds of Forest Park

Get your passport stamped

If you attend any of these events or even celebrated Earth Day in your own way, just submit an activity report to us and make sure you specify that it was an Earth Day event. We’ll send your stamp out in a jiffy! More details on the Passport Program here…

25th-ST_Logo-Color-FinalEarth Day celebrations are part of more than 25 activities we’re highlighting for Missouri Stream Team’s 25th anniversary. We have cleanups, education events and even a big float trip coming up now through October, so mark your calendars!

24th Annual Project Blue River Rescue Results

Saturday, April 5, was a record-breaker for Project Blue River Rescue. The project’s director, Vicki Richmond, says they gained new high numbers for nearly every measure!

  • 1,200 volunteers
  • 34 work sites (with 14 brand-new leaders at work sites!)
  • 4,000 trash bags (about 60 tons of trash)
  • 822 tires
  • 300 riparian forest trees and shrubs planted in a teasel-infested marsh behind Lakeside Nature Center
  • 3 acres of invasive, non-native honeysuckle removed and treated with herbicide

By all accounts, Vicki says, it was a great day. New leaders rocked their socks off, lunch operations were smooth and as litter-free as possible, and the project took on a new site, where a concerned landowner simply asked if PBRR could help. Could they ever: “That one site gave up 100 tires by ten in the morning,” Vicki says. She estimates it will take PBRR at least three years to fully scour that location, which they’re calling “Sorenson’s Creek.”

Here’s just a sample of the variety of landscapes and trash along the Blue River this year:

Photos keep rolling in from volunteers and leaders, so check back on PBRR’s Facebook page for more! You can also read about the day on KCTV Channel 5.

Mark your calendars: Next year–PBRR’s 25th Anniversary–the cleanup will take place on March 28, 2015.

Learn more: How Project Blue River Rescue has put on massive cleanups for nearly half a century.


25th-ST_Logo-Color-FinalThe 24th Annual Project Blue River Rescue cleanup was part of “25 Days of Stream Team,” a series of events celebrating our 25th year of citizens caring for Missouri streams. Join the fun and learn how to earn prizes with the Passport Program!