Coalition works to keep Little Blue River clean

Hugh S. Welsh

They’re all about trash, muck and making our rivers a better place.

They’re the Little Blue River Watershed Coalition.

Several times a year they cooperate with the Mid-America Regional Council to devote a day to cleaning up the Little Blue River.

On Aug. 9, the group, consisting of 10 volunteers, spent six hours cleaning up a quarter-mile stretch of the Little Blue River . Larry O’Donnell, president of the coalition, said 33 tires were pulled from the river along with enough trash to pack a pickup bed.

“This was the first time we were able to wade and get the tires,” O’Donnell said. “Usually we stay along the banks.”

According to O’Donnell, the river is riddled with more than 1,000 tires, which disintegrate and release small particles into the water that can defoul an ecosystem. He said more and more trash is finding its way into the river, most of it likely the result of runoff.

“If you throw out a plastic bottle in a parking lot, it’ll probably wind up in the Little Blue,” O’Donnell said.

In addition to its cleanup efforts at Little Blue, the coalition partners with the Metropolitan Community College-Longview stream cleanup team as well as Project Blue River Rescue. They will participate in the Missouri River Watershed Festival and the Missouri River Clean-up Oct. 3 and 4 at LaBenite Park in Sugar Creek.

The sixth annual event will include several dozen presentations Oct. 3 regarding pollution, water quality and river habitat. The following day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., boats will ferry volunteers to locations on the Missouri River where trash has washed ashore. The volunteers will gather the trash into piles that boats will collect later. O’Donnell said he anticipates 300 to 400 people on clean-up day.

“I recommend that people come both days,” O’Donnell said. “As important as it is that people come out and help, it’s also important that people know what our rivers are, how valuable they are, what we’ve done to them and how we can better live with them.”

For more information about the coalition’s next Little Blue River clean-up, visit the Web site or call O’Donnell at 816-356-4040.

The Examiner