MDC assists partners with Blue River Rescue cleanup in Kansas City

News from the region
Kansas City
Published Date

Kansas City, Mo. – More than 500 volunteers worked during a cool but sunny day on April 7 to clean trash and tires from the Blue River channel in Kansas City. The 28th annual Blue River Rescue event was organized by Stream Team No. 175, Friends of Lakeside Nature Center, and Kansas City Parks and Recreation. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) provided tree seedlings for planting and staff members led two volunteer crews.

Wendy Sangster, MDC urban forester, led a crew planting trees along the river at 51st Street and Hardesty Avenue. The planting site was between the river and a Kansas City parks trail for hiking, jogging, and bicycling. Stephen VanRhein, MDC community conservation planner, led a crew recovering tires.

Volunteers and city of Kansas City crews hauled away 40 tons of trash and 800 old tires from various sites along 15 miles of the Blue River. Many of the sites were in or near Swope Park, said Larry O’Donnell, one of the event’s organizers. The cleanup is necessary each year, unfortunately, because litter from streets and lawns gets washed into the stream annually. And the tires were dumped illegally.

“Most of the trash is coming down through the storm drains,” O’Donnell said. “We had lots of litter this year because of summer floods.”

Besides an annual trash pickup, Blue River Rescue works to educate the community about the importance of keeping trash and pollutants away from streets, and thus out of streams.

The Missouri Stream Team program provides way for community members to protect water quality and enhance stream way habitat for rivers and creeks in their neighborhood. For more information, visit For more information about MDC programs for healthy rivers, visit