The Missouri River has seen plenty of hard times, from industrial pollution to decades of public misuse through littering and illegal dumping. Luckily, Missouri River Relief (MRR) has stepped up to take this vital watershed under its wing.
Fifteen Years of River Cleanups
Through programming that is both fun and educational, Missouri River Relief has inspired an incredible number of people to take an active role in keeping the Missouri River clean and healthy. Since 2001, over 22,000 volunteers have removed 1.7 million pounds of trash from the river over the course of 147 cleanup events. Twenty-one of those cleanups took place last year alone. Over the course of the year, 1,508 volunteers came together to clean up nearly 60 miles of river, removing 47 tons of trash in the process.
MRR shows no sign of slowing down in 2016. In the past two months they’ve already completed 3 cleanups, and are busy preparing for another outing on May 14. For that event, volunteers will travel to the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to tackle the mess left behind by a January flood.
While volunteers will once again work hard to pull pounds of harmful debris from the water, an MRR cleanup event is always about more than simple trash removal. Each event allows people to explore new environments, learn more about the river and the issues affecting it, meet new people who share their love of the Big Muddy, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from completing a difficult task that truly made a difference.
MRR’s cleanups bring together long-time supporters of the river and those who are visiting it for the very first time. Through their work with MRR, everyone leaves with a deeper connection to the Missouri and the assurance that they are not alone in their commitment to the environment. It’s easier to remember that every little bit counts when you know your little bit is in good company!
A Big Muddy History
The Missouri River is the longest river in the U.S., originating in the Rocky Mountains and flowing southeast for 2,341 miles before joining the Mississippi near St. Louis. It has played such a major role in our history that it’s taken on almost legendary status. The Missouri carried Lewis and Clark into the unexplored West, and later served as a starting point for generations of pioneers. Before their time, the Missouri was a highway and a vital resource for many Native American societies, its banks lined with their cultural landmarks.
The Missouri River is just as important ecologically as it is historically and culturally. Its floodplain supports a range of habitats, from grasslands to forests, that are home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. But since the 1800s, the river and the habitats it supports have been severely threatened by pollution and other human activities.
Missouri River Relief has taken on the monumental task of beginning to halt and reverse this damage. Their work not only keeps the river clean but connects people to it on a deeper level. It is only through environmental education, and the public taking ownership of its protection, that the Big Muddy can continue to thrive. Missouri River Relief makes that happen every day.