Volunteers prep for Missouri River cleanup in May

Volunteers are preparing for next month's Missouri River cleanup.
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 4:47 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A Missouri nonprofit has helped more than 28,000 volunteers clean up more than 970 tons of trash from 1,200 miles of the river and its banks.

The Missouri River Relief Organization celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and will return to the Omaha metro after the flood and the pandemic kept them away from the area.

Four years ago, the Missouri-based nonprofit organized volunteers in the Omaha metro for the clean-up. Kevin Tosie is the Operations Manager of Missouri River Relief, the organization and its volunteers pulled all kinds of throwaways, even a bicycle.

“The strangest thing I always think when I find them is bowling balls, they surprisingly float.”

Michelle Foss and her coworkers at Fontenelle Forest volunteered to help back in 2017 and they plan to help with the river clean-up again this year.

“We’re excited to get our group of volunteers out there and go make a difference and clean up as much trash as we can,” said Foss.

The pandemic will change the way volunteers work to clean up the river.

“Before COVID, we used to do these events on one day only with anywhere from 150 to 300 people depending on our location. Since COVID, we have drastically cut our boat capacity and instead of doing everything on one single day, we actually spread this opportunity out over the course of three days,” said Tosie.

The Missouri River Relief had plans to clean up in our area in 2019 but flood waters that took the river didn’t allow that to happen. Organizers expect to find more flood debris during the clean-up this year.

“Probably quite a few of the waste tires that we see a lot and probably, unfortunately, a decent amount of 55-gallon barrel drums and things like that as well. So maybe just a little bit more flood debris in general as opposed to the large amount of bottles and things that we typically find.”

Organizers hope the clean-up effort helps connect people to Missouri.

“We care about the conservation recreational values as well as the water quality of the river and we hope to instill that in other people as well.”

The clean-up will get started at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park Friday, May 21, and Saturday, May 22 from 9 a.m. until noon, and then shift to the Lake Manawa State Park Boat Ramp on Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon.

The Lake Manawa State Park Boat Ramp registration is closed.

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