Missouri Streams: In Good Hands
river in unique ways. Not only have they removed more than 700 tons of trash from 863 miles of river since 2001, they have organized 30 educational festivals connecting more than 15,000 students and teachers to the Big Muddy. They have also taken on water quality monitoring and projects to improve river habitats.
River Relief Program Manager Steve Schnarr reflects on their successes and why there’s no slowing down for this crew. “It continues to grow because there is a need for this and people want to be involved. We try to help empower people and groups to develop their own local cleanups and activities and use our experience and connections to help them be successful. We can’t do it all, that’s for sure, but it’s important to keep it at a community scale and provide a way for people to connect to each other.”
More Than Removing Litter
Missouri is a national leader in volunteer stream stewardship efforts thanks to the creativity and determination of Stream Team members and strong agency support. While cleanups are a popular activity with volunteers, the Stream Team Program is about much more than just removing trash from streams. As the citizen movement to protect our streams picked up momentum, Stream Teams wanted to know more about the condition of their adopted waterways. In 1993, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) became a program sponsor to kick off the Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring portion of the program, enabling citizens to collect data that would provide critical information about stream conditions across the state. That first year, more than 200 volunteers were trained to collect biological, chemical, and physical monitoring data on their adopted streams. Today, nearly 6,000 citizens have attended a water quality monitoring workshop.
Water quality monitors are provided equipment to collect data that are used in a variety of ways by municipalities, agencies, and other organizations. Data collection ranges from backyard creek monitoring for educational purposes to long-term projects that support watershed management plans. Many teachers incorporate water quality monitoring as an important educational tool. Pat Brannock (Team 711) has taken Ash Grove High School students to Clear Creek in Greene County since 1997. “Students love to be outside and hands-on, and this program reinforces how important our water sources are in everyday life,” said Brannock.
Bob Steiert (Team 304) has faithfully monitored water chemistry on the Little Blue River in Kansas