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Group wants river as clean as Lewis & Clark saw it

Sunday, February 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:19 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Two centuries after Lewis and Clark traveled along the Missouri River, a local group hopes to make the river as garbage-free today as it was during The Corps of Discovery’s voyage.

Missouri River Relief will be cleaning up the Missouri River from St. Louis to Kansas City this spring to prepare for the Corps of Discovery II. The seven-week mission has been dubbed, “The Voyage of Recovery.”

On Friday, to publicize the event, the Ragtag Cinemacafe showed the film, “Shipshapin’.” The film follows Chad Pregracke, who heads Living Lands and Waters Inc., a not-for-profit river clean-up organization. Participants have cleaned up more than 800 tons of garbage alongside the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri rivers since 1998.

In 1997, Pregracke started cleaning up the Mississippi single-handedly, but said he has not tired from living on the river and cleaning up trash from February to December each year.

Living Lands and Waters Inc. will be coordinating Missouri River Relief’s “The Voyage of Recovery.”

“The Voyage of Recovery” will stop in eight places along the Missouri River. There will be a crew of 10 to 12 people heading the voyage, bringing Pregracke’s river cleanup barge and two of their own 18-feet workboats. During the seven weeks, the crew will be camping in tents on river islands. The kick-off will be an educational field day for children at the Confluence State Park in St. Louis County on April 30. The cleaning begins on May 1 at the same location. The voyage will conclude on June 19 in Kansas City.

Charlotte Overby, the project coordinator for Missouri River Relief, said this year will be quite different from years past. The group will be doing a series of small cleanups as opposed to a few large ones.

Missouri River Relief also must raise $105,000 to fund “The Voyage of Recovery” project. It is concerned about meeting this goal since it normally has until fall to raise funds, but the time frame will be shortened by the earlier spring start.

The budget is also much larger than it has been in the past.

Dory Colbert, graphic designer for Missouri River Relief, said everything finds a way to work itself out and the organization is confident it will reach its goal.

Missouri River Relief will be stopping at Cooper’s Landing on May 22 for a cleanup day. There will be a bonfire and music later. The members need “muscle” and encourage everyone to attend.


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