As summer begins to wind down, there’s still plenty of time to get out and enjoy the rivers. Many avid floaters prefer to enjoy the river during the fall season. The vivid colors of foliage mixed with the gentle sounds of nature can offer a float filled with peace and serenity. Of course, if you’re more of a thrill-seeker, some outfitters offer themed trips such as moonlight floats, Halloween floats, BOB’s (a float where you have one bag that you keep with you for the entire weekend that has everything you need in it), etc. And fishing is always a favorite activity, regardless of the season.
History shows that floating in Missouri has been a favorite pastime for many decades but as the popularity increases, so does the litter. Fall floating allows the opportunity to remove trash and other debris from the waterways which can be more of a challenge when water levels are higher. Many stream teams work year round removing trash, tires, appliances, etc. from our streams. In fact, since the Missouri Conservation Department began the Stream Teams Program twenty-five years ago, volunteers have removed 11,425 tons of litter, planted almost 285,000 trees along the streams, stenciled over 16,000 storm drains, and made nearly 26,000 trips to monitor water quality. The MDC Stream Team has roughly 286,000 volunteers in this program who have spent nearly 2.5 million hours cleaning our beautiful streams. Their efforts and dedication are greatly appreciated.
Missouri outfitters also participate in the ‘Stash Your Trash’ program offered by the MDC. Since 1998, over 5 million of the red mesh trash bags have been sent to outfitters across the state. While there is no way to know exactly how much litter has been collected, Steam Coordination Biologist, Amy Meier estimates around 50 million pounds of trash has been placed in the bags and kept out of our streams.
See you on the river!
Written by Michelle Lambeth, Executive Director Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association.