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Stash That Trash!

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Published on: May. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

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Last year, the Stream Team Program provided more than 250, 000 bags to almost 125 float outfitters and hundreds of Stream Teams. These bags helped keep an estimated 1, 000 tons of trash out of Missouri's rivers in 2003, alone.

Next time you are enjoying one of Missouri's beautiful streams, Stash Your Trash in the familiar red mesh bag provided by your outfitter. Make sure you tie the reusable bag to the canoe strut so your trash won't float downstream if you overturn.

THE HIGH COST OF LITTER

by Ginny Wallace

Whether you're hunting, fishing, canoeing or hiking, litter can spoil any outdoor experience.The people of Missouri are having to spend extra time and money to keep from being overwhelmed by litter.

The impact of litter extends beyond what can be measured in dollars. Foam cups and empty cans attract raccoons, opossums, snakes and other wildlife, and some animals get their heads stuck inside. Animals have tangled themselves in the sixpack plastic rings used to hold beverage cans.

Monofilament line is especially dangerous to wildlife. Most monofilament biodegrades very slowly. Because it's thin and often clear, birds and other animals can easily become tangled in it and may become injured, drown or starve to death. When birds use monofilament line in their nests, their chicks may fatally entangle themselves.

Cigarette filters look like cotton, but they are made of cellulose acetate, a long-lasting plastic. Chemicals in cigarette filters, as well as in the tobacco portion of the cigarette, leach into water and are toxic to some aquatic organisms. Because they are small and lightweight, rainwater easily transports the cigarette filters into our rivers, lakes and ponds.

In Missouri, littering is a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1, 000 and/or a year in jail. At conservation areas, signs posted in every parking lot inform visitors of the fines for littering.In a few areas, glass food and beverage containers are banned.

Conservation agents patrol areas regularly and issue tickets for littering. In 2002, they wrote 261 tickets and recovered more than $14, 000 in fines and court costs. Unfortunately, the fines don't come close to covering the cost of littering to Missouri taxpayers.

The Missouri Department of Transportation spends nearly $6 million each year on litter pick up. Adopt-A-Highway groups contribute about $1 million worth of effort.

In 2002, the departments of Conservation and Transportation teamed up to launch a litter prevention program entitled No MOre Trash! The thrust of the program is to educate people about the destructive impact and high cost of littering.

Littering is a problem we can solve. Here are a few things you can do to make a difference:

  • Remove items from your boat and pickup bed that can blow out onto roadways.
  • Retrieve lost or broken monofilament line and six-pack rings.
  • Take along a trash bag to dispose of your trash, then take it home.
  • Don't throw items in outdoor privies that might interfere with pumping out the tanks.
  • Don't leave fish parts on boat ramps or near streams. If you clean fish near the water, wrap the guts and carcasses and dispose of them in trash containers.
  • When you hunt, pick up spent cartridges.
  • Let your friends know you don't approve of littering--make it socially unacceptable.

For more information on what you can do, visit the No MOre Trash! website.

The Conservation Department purchased 110, 000 trash bags, which Conservation Agents distributed to participating float outfitters. The program worked so well that agents and float outfitters recommended expanding it to include all major float streams in southern Missouri. In 1988, the Stash Your Trash went statewide.

STREAM TEAMS

The Stream Team Program is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Nearly 50, 000 volunteers are members of 2, 500 Teams in Missouri.

Stream Teams provide an opportunity for everyone to get involved in river conservation. For more information about Missouri's Stream Team program, check out the Stream Team website, send an e-mail to <streamteam@mo.mdc.gov>, or call the Stream Team voice-mail at (800) 781-1989.

More than 100 float outfitters participating in the Stash Your Trash Program offer a discount to Stream Teams.Tese discounts are available to Teams renting canoes to perform Stream Team activities, such as litter pickups and water quality monitoring. A list of these and all canoe liveries can be found on the Missouri Department of Conservation web site through the fishing page.

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