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• Missouri has the largest volunteer corps of Stream Teams in the country.
• Managed & well-supported by the Missouri Department of Conservation
• Some do cleanups, some monitor water quality, some do watershed scale work.
• There are over 5,000 MO Stream Teams, with 90,000 participants,
• They are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Stream Team movement in Missouri this yr.
•I recently joined the ‘Mighty 211’ Arnold MO Stream Team led by two ‘crazy to clean streams’ men, Brian Waldrop & Bernie Arnold. (Brian was just acclaimed by American Rivers as one of their ‘River Champions’) We are among a very active group of Stream Teams in Jefferson County and parts south of St. Louis. The teams work closely together and support each other’s cleanups, multiplying their impact.
• The streams in Missouri are generally very beautiful (dotted by bluffs, springs, riffles, holes, wildlife, shutins, etc.), very slow (class 1 typically) and often abused, either as the sewer drain of the watershed, or as a bawdy party spots, on Saturdays usually, because they are so beautiful and so tame.
Why 2 Jackson Journeys:
I originally wanted a pair of kayaks to do reconnaissance for cleanups. There is a 100 mi. stretch of the Big River that I just don’t know enough about. (a pair, 1-13.5 & 1-14, because it is never wise to go boating alone AND I have a tribe of great kids and other friends who are game to join me).
Thurs. July 3rd On the lake first:
Our first time to put the two Journeys in the water was at Creve Coeur Lake. Saw several egrets & great blue herons, had a beaver swim up within a few feet of me before he became a little spooked by my attention to him. Kayaks/Journeys are so quiet, you really feel more like you are a ‘part’ of the environment.
We did drop them off the top of our car, as we were learning how to strap them onto the roof of a little Hyundai Elantra. They took the falls easily and look fine. That won’t happen again, ….ever.
Fri. July 4th On Joachim Creek next:
After walking in the Herculaneum Dunklin Fletcher Days parade we put in at the City boatramp w/ Brian & Bernie to float up Joachim Creek. (There was my youngest son Reuben in the 13.5, I in the 14, Brian in his kayak, Bernie in his canoe and three of my daughters, Lianna, Regina & Kirsten, in a borrowed a canoe. The Mississippi has been near flood stage, and that means it pushes water way up into the Joachim watershed. We floated up Joachim to Sandy Creek, a little trib that is usually too small to float, but with the stagnant flood waters we were literally able to go 5 miles upstream from the Mississippi before we came to clear water. We had no intent on doing a cleanup, but we do have a practice of picking out trash ANY time you get on the water. Bernie snagged a few tires beneath I-55, I found a couple soccer balls in honor of the World Cup.
The find of the day however was a Rookery tree. Bernie noticed an inordinate amount of bird poop on the shrubs in one stretch of creek. We looked up and saw a large nest… then another and another. The entire top of the tree was filled with big great Blue Heron nests!! So many that it is easily visible on Google Earth (see attached).
Sat. July 5th Joachim Cleanup:
We gathered at the same City boat ramp to do a light cleanup (light because you can’t get tires off the bottom when the water is high) We went 2miles downstream to the Mississippi. Last November when the water was very low we had walked out and pulled 78 tires out of this reach, but this day we were able to float right over the low water dam and all the way to the Might Mississip.
Over the years, working with the City and working for The Doe Run Company, I had hiked both sides of the Joachim looking for trail opportunities and means for extending the recreational possibilities of Herculaneum. (the town is renowned for the best boys & girls HS cross country program in the state, so they USE trails) I had ALWAYS wanted to see this area from the water. This was a special occasion for me.
Reuben and Lianna had the two Journeys, while I borrowed a canoe, which was great with the Greenland paddle my older son fashioned for me. They instantly got to work nabbing trash under the MR & BT Memorial bridge. Kayaks are not the preferred vehicle for a cleanup, but they are so agile at getting places other boats struggle to get to, they make us think twice. Meanwhile most of the canoers went after big game, in the form of barrels and other big metal debris. I settled for a big plastic bag of something I couldn’t describe. I couldn’t even pull it in the canoe.
While the Joachim was still as could be, the Mississippi was anything but. It was clearly not a good place to venture without proper boatsmanship and training. The water was fast and filled with debris. We went out to it, but no further, not this day.
(note: Lianna is point guard for Mizzou WBB team, was named SEC Scholar Athlete for 2014. Reuben, 14yrs. old is our golfer/Boy Scout)
Thurs. July 10:
Recreation kayaking with my daughter Regina before she headed off to LAX camp at Duke.
(note: Regina is a HS All-State lacrosse player)
Sat. July 12:
No kayaking, land based tire & trash roundup at Lower Meramec State Park, pulling ~100 tires and 15 CY of trash out of the floodplains with the Mighty 211.
Wed. July 16 Simpson Lake/Grand Glaize Creek Cleanup:
Missouri also boasts the longest continuously running river cleanup in Operation Clean Stream that focuses on the Meramec River and its tributaries. They have broken the Meramec into 39 distinct reaches and the last weekend of August every year for the last 47 yrs they have pulled tons and tons of trash out of the Meramec. This is all organized by a group known as the Open Space Council, run now by Kat Dockery. July 16 was an organizational meeting at Simpson Lake pavilion for the leaders of each of the reach cleanups. I’ve been invited to this and been involved just for a couple years, but there are people there that have worked all 47 cleanups. Truly inspiring.
Since the meeting was on the lake I brought our kayaks along and sent Reuben and Kirsten off to play on the lake while we went through the meeting. As the meeting wrapped up, I was trying to keep an eye toward the lake to see where they were. I confess to being a worried father, because one thing we have realized is how little we know about kayaking. We are learning at a fast rate, but there is a learning curve to mastering the weight and balance required in ‘wearing’ a kayak.
When they came paddling across the lake obviously loaded down with trash from the adjacent Grand Glaize Creek, I was just so tickled & proud that I had to email Eric Jackson and Colin Kemp to tell you guys what a great blessing these Journeys are and hopefully will be for a long time to come. They are highly respected among the kayaking community. People that know kayaks confirm what I suspected from my research before buying them. They are very agile.
There are other kayaks that are considered to track better, but none so agile. I opted not to get the rudders just yet, because I don’t want us to miss out on what we can learn by not having them to rely on for correcting our course. We will become better paddlers in the long run. As we learn this new skillset we will only be able to do more and more at pulling junk out of our lakes & rivers.
We have a busy summer ahead. At least 6 more cleanups that I know of, and more to come as we get down the river. And then there is that recon that I want to do.

You may ask why cleanup rivers? People do it for a variety of reasons. It’s good to do. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment when you finish. You forge a deeper respect for and appreciation of the treasure that are our communities’ waterways. There is a real esprit de corps among the stream teamers. You can’t work with someone all day and not appreciate them, no matter what their viewpoint or persuasion. You know what they are made of. They are good people
Personally… my motto is: God is cleaning up the trash in my life, it’s an honor for me to clean up yours.
I love doing this. I have no malice to those whose trash this may be. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have found my way back to enjoying these streams in a Jackson Journey.