For the fourth time, volunteers from around the Omaha and Council Bluffs area came together to support the organization, Missouri River Relief and help clean up the banks of the Missouri River.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, more than 200 volunteers collected massive amounts of junk that had been washed down the river after last year's flooding.
Volunteers were provided life jackets and a boat ride on the river where they were let out on the banks of the Big Muddy to discover what happens to trash when it hits the watershed.
Missouri River Relief organizers use the event to educate the volunteers about why the cleanup is important including protecting wildlife and the ecosystem from the trash and pollution.
The Omaha District supplied a barge with several dumpsters to allow organizers and volunteers to off load all the trash and help with disposal. Also on hand were natural resource specialists Angel Pletka and Lynn Heng to educate volunteers about water safety and steps they can take to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Much of the larger items recovered, including polystyrene, plastic drums and tires used to float and protect docks, had washed up during last year’s flooding. But a lot of the smaller items included plastic shopping bags and drink containers, end up in the river or along the river in a variety of ways.
One of the younger volunteers shared that he had never thought about what happened to a plastic bag blowing in the wind until the event. “I have just watched bags blow down the street or get carried off by the wind,” he said. “I never thought about that it might end up on the side of the river where a duck or deer could eat it or get stuck in it. I’m gonna try to remember that next time I see it.”
After spending a few hours along the riverbanks, volunteers were brought back to N.P. Dodge Park, north of the District’s Missouri River Project office for free pizza, a presentation from the National Park Service about the various animals living along the Missouri River and the "Git that Garbage" contest!
“Git that Garbage” is a contest where volunteers, show off their unique trash finds and enter to compete for prizes in various categories including biggest, most artistic, weirdest, most fashionable, oldest, and most useful to name a few.
Volunteers collected 5.2 tons of trash including 1.5 tons of scrap metal, 58 tires and, after determining what items weren’t recyclable, 2.7 tons of trash was sent to the landfill.
Git that Garbage Winners
Groups & Agencies Involved:
Missouri River Relief, Mayor Suttle's Office, Back to the River, Captain Planet Foundation, Constellation Energy, Gallup, Inc., Northern Natural Gas, Sam & Louie's Pizza, Harrah's, Bridgestone "One Team One Planet", City of Council Bluffs, IA, City of Omaha, NE, Country Inn & Suites, Green Omaha Coalition, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Pottatwattamie County Conservation, Remelt Industries, Waste Management, Big Muddy Urban Farm, G4S, Boy Scout Troop 510, Americorps Vista, Leo Club, LDS Mormon Church, Keep Iowa Beautiful, National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers