A non-profit, dedicated to preserving the Missouri River for future generations, is celebrating 20 years.

Missouri River Relief started in 2001 with a massive one-day cleanup near Easley.  Since then, the group has conducted 200 community-based cleanups, enlisting the help of nearly 30,000 volunteers.  The organization has removed almost 1,000 tons of trash from the banks of the river. 

Missouri River Relief Executive Director Steve Schnarr says, sadly, many people don’t realize their litter will end up in the river. 

“Most people don’t make that connection and between what happens in their backyard, what happens in the street, in front of their house, or down the road from them.  And the fact that when it rains, everything that gets tossed out ends up in local creeks and streams that all ends up in the Missouri River.” 

The group is about halfway through a two-month long cleanup, called the “Big Muddy Clean Sweep”, targeting 200 miles of the river from Kansas City to Cooper’s Landing near Columbia.  Five temporary crew members are traveling the river, meeting with volunteers along the way to organize cleanup efforts.  Schnarr says volunteers are still needed in Miami on September 18, as well as Glasgow later this month and in Rocheport in mid-October.  To get registered as a volunteer go to stewardship@riverrelief.org

Schnarr says a 20th anniversary celebration is scheduled for Tuesday, September 14 at Cooper’s Landing, near the site of the group’s first cleanup 20 years ago.  The celebration begins at 5:30 p.m. and includes music, camaraderie, photos, and stories, as well as a special visit from Chad Pregracke, the man who helped Missouri River Relief get started. 

“He has been cleaning up the Mississippi River for about 25 years.  He helped get our first cleanup going and has helped us in way more ways too.  He’s going to come and share a little of this thoughts.”

Schnarr says the celebration will give you an opportunity to meet the five crew members overseeing the “Big Muddy Clean Sweep”.