Missouri Stream Team Reaches 3,000

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 23, 2010

efforts begin.


  • Stream Team 3000 signs on!

Project Blue River Rescue:

Volunteers Reclaim and Improve a Kansas City Stream

What is Project Blue River Rescue?

Sixteen years ago, a group of volunteers set out to clean up a small section of the Blue River near Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City’s Swope Park. This group, which formed Stream Team 175, started Project Blue River Rescue (PBRR). The project involves over 500 citizens annually.

The Blue River, premier Kansas City resource

The Blue River flows northeasterly through Kansas City for 41 miles. The watershed, or land area draining into the river, is 270 square miles and is home to 583,000 people. This area covers parts of two states (Kansas and Missouri), three counties, 12 local governments and 10 school districts. “The Blue” (as it’s called by locals), its tributary streams and corridors provide valuable resources and habitats in the midst of the city.

Problems facing the Blue River

Water quality in Blue River watershed streams is degraded by point and non-point pollution sources. Point sources are those that enter the stream at a specific point, such as from a pipe or inflow. Non-point pollution includes runoff from land-based sources such as streets and parking lots. Soil is one of the biggest non-point pollution sources throughout the state, especially in developing urban areas.

Perhaps the most unsightly problem for the Blue has been solid waste dumping. Some out-of-the-way areas become known as easy-access dumpsites. Other sources of trash include roadside litter that washes into streams via streets and storm drains or improper disposal by nearby residents or business owners.

How is PBRR helping?

Over the years, Stream Team 175 has removed more than 1,200 tons of trash from the banks, corridors and surrounding watershed of this urban river. Volunteers have worked to clean up dumpsites and raise awareness and enforcement so future dumping does not occur. Some areas now have surveillance to catch local dumpers.

PBRR volunteers have improved habitats by planting more than 35,000 trees to stabilize eroding stream-banks. The group also monitors water quality and leads monitoring demonstrations during the annual cleanup.

The 15th Year Celebration

In 2005, PBRR celebrated its 15th year. Nineteen cleanup sites, including 24 sections on a 20-mile stretch of river, were tackled, including dumps at Byram’s Ford, a local historic Civil War battlefield. In addition, volunteers from Missouri River Relief, Inc. (Stream Team 1,875) partnered to clean up the confluence of the Blue and Missouri Rivers. More than 800 volunteers participated in removing more than 200 tons of trash, 14 cars and 1,200 tires.

Come join in the fun

If you attend Blue River Rescue, you’ll begin your day at Lakeside Nature Center on Gregory Boulevard. Volunteers sign in, enjoy breakfast and divide into groups according to their abilities and interests. Participants spend the morning at their sites and then lunch is provided at Lakeside. Those who have steam left go back out after lunch to put finishing touches on their sites.

What an accomplishment!

PBRR has become a Kansas City springtime tradition. It is held on the first Saturday in April every year. If you’d like to get involved, join us at Lakeside Nature Center on Saturday, April 1.

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