Missouri Streams: In Good Hands

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Published on: Feb. 18, 2014

It all started in 1988, when a few forward-thinking anglers, fed up with unsightly trash disrupting their fishing in Roubidoux Creek, banded together to clean up the mess. Around that time, leaders in stream management envisioned a program that would involve citizens in river conservation.

In 1989, inspired by ideas shared at the first Rivers and Streams Conference, the Missouri Stream Team Program was born. The Roubidoux Fly Fishers (Stream Team 1) began as a group of local anglers holding small cleanups on their favorite fishing stream. By 1990, their cleanup event attracted 300 volunteers, including Governor John Ashcroft. More than 17 tons of trash was removed from the creek in a single day. Still active today, Stream Team 1 remains passionate about the unspoiled beauty of Roubidoux Creek.

Fast-forward 25 years. The Stream Team Program boasts several thousand active Teams, with approximately 81,000 citizens participating in a variety of stream conservation activities. There is something for everyone. Since 1989, Stream Teams have been an impassioned voice for the protection of streams that Missourians rely on for clean drinking water, quality fishing, and first-class recreational opportunities.

The three goals of the Stream Team Program are education, stewardship, and advocacy. Each Team puts a personal touch on achieving these goals through efforts in their own communities. The program provides supplies and technical assistance, and Stream Teams provide the rest. All that is needed to join is a sincere interest in conservation and willingness to contribute time for the betterment of Missouri’s streams. Volunteers of all ages and abilities come to the program from many backgrounds with one thing in common — a love of Missouri streams. The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) also sponsors the program, serving as a voice for citizen efforts in stream conservation.


Teams are resource stewards conducting many activities that benefit streams. Activities like monitoring water quality, planting streamside trees, removing invasive species, and stenciling storm drains provide lasting effects on streams. Litter pickups, however, are the most popular activity because of the instant gratification, the fact that anyone can participate, and it’s fun! There is something profoundly satisfying about sore muscles, dirty clothes, and piles of trash waiting to be hauled away, not to mention the camaraderie of a good barbecue and stories shared after a hard day’s work. In 2012 alone, more than 24,000 volunteers spent 136,518 hours removing more than 689 tons of trash

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