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River Relief

About Missouri River Relief

Missouri River Relief is proud to be Missouri Stream Team #1875

Missouri River Relief is a grassroots, volunteer and equipment-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting people to the Missouri River through hands-on river clean-ups, education events and stewardship activities.

The organization emerged organically from a group of people in mid-Missouri who simultaneously recognized the need for engaged stewardship of the Missouri River and the desire of citizens to take part in watershed solutions.

Inspired by a video of Chad Pregracke’s Living Lands and Waters barge clean-up crew, this group of Missouri River lovers put together a coalition of public, private and citizen stewards that brought the barge up the river, holding the first massive Missouri River clean-up at Easley, MO, in 2001.

Since that time, the organization has grown each year. To date, MRR has hosted 133 Missouri River clean-ups, bringing 21,005 volunteers to clean 801 tons of trash from 1,031 miles of the river. We have participated in and hosted clean-ups in eight states, from the Mississippi River to Yankton, S.D.  In addition, the organization promoted local river education through 300+ outreach projects, aiming to build public awareness, action and support for a healthy river.

2014 was Missouri River Relief's 14th year, and River Relief volunteers got a lot done.  The past two years have been uniquely challenging in the Missouri River basin with record-breaking floods followed by record-breaking heat and drought.  Many people are rethinking their relationship to the river but one thing remains the same - Missouri River Relief's mission to bring people to the river with the common goal of improving it.

River Clean-ups accomplish a few things effectively: they engage people proactively in stewardship of the Missouri River, often putting people on the river for the first time. They also educate people about the problem of solid waste on our streams and rivers and physically bring interested parties together to accomplish something real.

But Missouri River Relief quickly realized that broader education is the key to solving our watershed problems. So we have also hosted and participated in 96 Missouri River Watershed Festivals, bringing together corporate, scientific, agency and non-profit experts together to teach 16,545 students about water issues right where it matters most, on the banks of one of the nation’s largest river systems.

Clean-up crew

MRR continues to broaden their connections with other watershed, education and river groups. Each year, through generous corporate and government donations, we have expanded our equipment fleet which now includes four boats, a 4x4 truck, two passenger vans, and a box truck loaded with tools, trashbags, life-jackets and a camp for volunteers. We feel a responsibility to put this equipment base to work for others, bringing boats and crewmembers to 74 other clean-ups throughout the state, in efforts we call “Away Teams”.  We all live downstream, and it is crucial that we all work together and communicate on watershed issues.

Effort each year is put into training a “core crew” of dedicated volunteers that travel throughout the valley putting on events. There are now around 40 crewmembers that can be counted on to work throughout the year, trained in safety briefing, boat driving, equipment operation and all the aspects of a public clean-up event. 

In 2006, this crew entered new realms of “trash science”, completing a 754 mile trip on the Lower Missouri River, mapping dumps and solid waste accumulations along the river. The product of this journey, the MegaScout GIS dataset, is available upon request from MRR.  It is an excellent educational tool about the Missouri River, solid waste and non-point source pollution and the various uses of the river. We use it constantly in planning clean-ups and communicating our mission.

www.riverrelief.org is created and maintained by Missouri River Relief, P.O. Box 463, Columbia, MO 65205
Copyright © 2014 Missouri River Relief, photos copyright © their respective owners
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