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Hundreds of volunteers help clean up Missouri River near Hartsburg

More than 200 volunteers from across mid-Missouri gathered in Hartsburg Saturday for the annual Mid-Missouri Clean-Up on the Missouri River.

“[It was] a cold start to a warm-hearted day on the Big Muddy,” said Kevin Tosie of Missouri River Relief.

Volunteers packed into boats operated by staff and officials from three different organizations and departments, including Missouri River Relief, the Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Tosie said they started at about 8:30 Saturday morning, and after just a couple of hours, they were able to collect 140 bags of trash and 38 tires from the banks of the river.

From the trash, they separated recyclables. They found 26 light bulbs, 44 airplane bottles and 68 balls of various sizes.

“What our volunteers set out to do on our cleanups is remove trash from the banks that have floated in through storm drains and have been illegally dumped,” said Tosie. “By removing trash from the banks, we aim to reduce the amount of plastic floating downstream that eventually makes it to the ocean, while increasing the health of our rivers.”

Missouri River Relief is a grassroots, volunteer and equipment-based non-profit that works to clean up the Missouri River.

Since its first clean-up, in 2001, MRR has conducted 168 community-based clean-ups, enlisting the help of more than 25,000 volunteers to clean up over 906 tons of trash from both banks of 1,200 miles of river, Tosie said.

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