Big Muddy cleanup planned for Saturday

Cleanup crews will try to fish everything from refrigerators to frying pans out of the Missouri River on Saturday.

Wacky things turn up along with the just plain messy stuff when Missouri River Relief conducts its annual cleanup in the Kansas City area. Last year, The Kansas City Belle houseboat was pulled in pieces from the river near Kaw Point.

Heavy rains throughout this past spring and summer have left who knows what in the deeper water, said Vicki Richmond, the organization’s regional director. But she knows exactly what’s on shore.

“There’s a ribbon of trash left by the high water this spring and summer,” Richmond said.

This year’s cleanup will begin at 9 a.m. at La Benite Park off Missouri 291 in Sugar Creek, just off the highway on the river’s south shore. Boats will take volunteers out to pre-scouted trash hot spots. They’ll be dropped off for a few hours of trash gathering, then picked up and brought back to La Benite for a picnic lunch. A T-shirt and work gloves are also provided.

Missouri River Relief boats then will pick up the trash gathered on shore. As much as possible will be recycled.

This cleanup is one of several that are scheduled each year along the river. Last year’s statewide haul included 1,004 bags of trash, 499 tires and 13 tons of scrap metal. Those were the biggest items. Volunteers also found everything from toilets to piles of car parts in the river.

A notch in a wing dike downstream of Kansas City holds at least two refrigerators, and maybe four, Richmond said.

“These things may have started in Omaha or Sioux City and floated down,” she said.

Organizers shift the focus area for the cleanup according to needs, and this year a 15-mile river segment from the mouth of the Blue River to Missouri City will be scoured for trash.

Besides its own channels, the Blue picks up plenty of trash throughout the metro area from Tomahawk, Indian and Brush creeks, Richmond said.

“Most of the stuff we’ll pick up comes in on storm drains,” she said. “Just below the Blue River mouth there’s a huge accumulation of trash that’s settled on the bank. It’s just chocked full of cans, bottles and balls. There’s even a pink bicycle helmet.”

Volunteers are welcome and Richmond is hoping between 500 and 600 people will help this Saturday with good weather predicted. For more information, call Richmond at 816-812-5166 or visit the Web site at