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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Activities: Join Stream Team 1 on the creek where it all started! The Roubidoux Fly Fishers Association (RFFA) invites any and all Stream Teamers to assist with their annual cleanup. Date: Saturday, August 30, 2014 Time: 9:00 a.m. Place: Pavilion #3 in Waynesville City Park
What to expect: Once in the park, look for the banner. After the cleanup, the RFFA will provide fried chicken for a potluck lunch. Everyone is asked to bring their favorite side dish. An RSVP is required for an accurate head count for the chicken.
The RFFA also asks they you bring your own canoe or small watercraft. Shuttling will be available. The Roubidoux is mostly wadeable with some deep pools.
Passport stamps will be available at this event. What’s a passport stamp? Why, it’s your gateway to fun, prizes, and Stream Team glory! Click here for more information and here for details on all upcoming 25th Anniversary events.
Activities: Join thousands of other volunteers to clean the shores and waters of the Meramec River in this project run by the Open Space Council for the St. Louis Region. Date: August 23-24, 2014 Time: 8:00 a.m. Place: State Parks and other sites along the Meramec (full list below).
What to expect: Since 1967, The Open Space Council for the St. Louis Region has organized Operation Clean Stream. Volunteers take to the Meramec River and its tributaries, working to undo damage caused throughout the year by flooding, careless littering and the unlawful dumping of trash. Volunteers participate both in canoes and boats, as well as on the shore, in nearby parks, and along nearby trails. In 2013, more than 3000 volunteers pulled 2,607 tires and 351 cubic yards of trash from the river.
What to expect if you’re a youth: You are extra special. The Passport to Clean Water Program began in 2012 as an educational tool for young, Operation Clean Stream volunteers. Each year, organizations throughout the St. Louis Region, whose mission includes water quality, facilitate educational, interactive activities, discussions, and explorations that explain different aspects of water with youth and their families. Our goal with this program is to provide all participants with crucial, take-home knowledge on how they can improve water quality in their own daily lives
The Passport to Clean Water program will take place on August 23, 2014 in Greentree Park in Kirkwood, MO and is free and open to all youth ages 5-18. The program will run from 11 am – 1:00 pm.
Arnold City Park — Volunteers should meet at 8:00 am. The park is located at: 1 Bradley Beach Rd, Arnold, MO 63010
Greentree Park — Volunteers should meet at 9:00 am at the shelter. The park is located at: 2202 Marshall Rd, Kirkwood, MO 63122
George Winter Park, Volunteers should meet between 8:00 am and 9:00 am at the main picnic shelter. The park is located at: 401 Allen Road, Saint Louis, MO 63026
Route 66 State Park — Volunteers should meet between 7:00 am to 8:00 am at the Route 66 State Park Visitor Center (Exit 266) located at: 97 N Outer Rd E #1, Eureka, MO 63025
Meramec State Park — Volunteers should meet at 8:00 am at Shelter #2. The park is located at: 115 Meramec Park Drive, Sullivan, MO 63080-4271. Lunch for volunteers will be at 12:30 pm
Castlewood State Park — Volunteers should meet at 9:00 am at the east side of the River Access Day use Area located at: 1401 Kiefer Creek Rd, Ballwin, MO 63021
Submit an activity report to claim your stake in the mega-cool drawing for Stream Team 25th Anniversary greatness. Time is running out to fill up your passport, but you can still check out the fall events, including a float on the Current River!
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.
It’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.
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…
These pictures are from the 5-mile Meramec River float from Sappington Bridge to Meramec State Park, on July 27. The participants are all stream team folks who attended the Meramec Watershed Celebration on the previous day. Most camped the weekend at Meramec State Park. The weather was beautiful and a good time was had by all.