Cleaning Up With Missouri River Relief

Every other year, the Missouri River Relief visits Omaha and Council Bluffs to work on a major river cleanup. This bi-annual event has taken place for a long time, but following the floods of 2019, it was much needed in these cities.

Following the covid-19 restrictions, the event took three days to complete, with small groups working on individual parts of the Missouri River each day.

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2021 marks Missouri River Relief’s 20th anniversary, and the group celebrated with a large cleanup, which is right on brand.

Who Are Missouri River Relief?

Missouri River Relief was founded in 2001 and is focused on conserving the ‘Big Muddy.’

The group works with local communities and creates initiatives to get people involved in river preservation. They put on a number of events every year for the community, which include educational seminars, recreational programs, and hands-on river cleanups to remove waste and debris from the land.

Over the past 20 years, the Missouri River Relief has created a community of river lovers who spend their spare time preserving and taking care of this important freshwater source in the state.

Missouri River Cleanups

One of the biggest events that Missouri River Relief organizes and takes part in is the river cleanups. These are regular events that rely on volunteers to remove waste from the river to protect the freshwater source.

More than three million people rely on the Missouri River for freshwater, which is used in their showers, to water the garden, and for drinking. 

The Missouri River is vital to this environment as it plays a vital role in the lives of the residents, as well as being used by local wildlife too. This is why Missouri River Relief is so passionate about its work and requires volunteers to help with its cleanup events.

To keep this freshwater source safe and usable, the Missouri River Relief relies on thousands of volunteers within their cleanup events which take place throughout the year, to remove waste and other debris from the water. 

Over the last two decades, the group has seen around 30,000 volunteers cover 1,400 miles and remove 970 tons of trash from the waterway and nearby banks.

Our company first worked with Missouri River Relief in 2016, when we provided dumpsters for their Kanvas City cleanup. In 2021, we have helped the group remove 8.2 tons of litter from the Big Muddy with two of our 30-yard dumpster donations.

The Three Day Cleanup Event

This year, the group saw one of their longest-running cleanup events, which took place over three days. 

The cleanup kicked off on Friday, May 20th, in Council Bluffs and concluded the following Sunday in Omaha. The length of the cleanup came due to covid-19 restrictions, which meant volunteers could not work together in as large of groups as they used to.

Restoring the banks of the river was the primary goal of the cleanup event, but the team saw impressive results beyond this, and their work continues to improve the environment in this state.

Day One: Tom Hanafan’s River Edge Park

The first day of the cleanup event took place in Tom Hanafan’s River Edge Park, which is a popular location for festivals, concerts, and walking. 

It is located right by Council Bluff’s 40-mile trail system, which means the park sees a lot of traffic and is commonly used recreationally, especially during the summer. This can result in a lot of waste, which needs to be removed to protect the environment.

Thanks to the near-perfect weather conditions, the volunteers managed to get a lot of work done on the first day. The park was the meeting spot for 20 partners, and corporate leaders as the cleanup began on Friday.

Five miles were covered by the volunteers on Friday, giving a good headway for the next group of volunteers the following day.

Day Two: Volunteers Keep Going

A new group of volunteers stepped up to continue the work of Friday’s group and covered a 10-mile stretch along the river.

A large amount of Styrofoam was removed on this day from the nearby marinas, including an incredible amount of blocks from the Sandpiper Cove. In this abandoned harbor by downtown Omaha, 257 Stryfoam blocks were removed.

The weather conditions were not as good on this day, but this did not stop the volunteers.

The group managed to collect and remove two and a half 40-yard dumpsters worth of Stryafoam alone. They also removed tires, blankets, and appliances from the water to prevent the debris from going downstream.

Day Three: Restoring the Fontenelle Forest

With partners at Fontenelle Forest, the groups for Missouri River Relief cleaned the five miles between State Park Boot Ramp and Veteran’s Memorial Bridge on the last day.

This particular stretch of land is very prone to flooding, so a lot of work needed to be done here. It was ravaged by the flooding in 2011 and again in 2019.

Like the previous days of the event, the trash that was collected by the volunteers was impressive. Multiple appliances, bins, and furniture were removed from the banks, and the group filled a 30-yard dumpster with litter from their efforts.

A 20-foot culvert pipe, which allows water to flow under roads and trails, was recovered by volunteers on this day. The pipe was put to good use, with many Missouri homes bordering this area.

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