Sustain Mizzou pitched in to clean up Hinkson Creek on Saturday as part of the seventh annual Hinkson Clean Sweep.
Other MU student organizations and city volunteers lent a hand to remove litter and restore the creek to its natural appearance. Eighteen streams feed into Hinkson Creek, each of which contribute to the accumulation of litter.
“We try to educate the public and get the word out there,” said Mike Heimos, stormwater educator for the City of Columbia Public Works Department.
The event was co-sponsored by the Public Works Department, Sierra Club, Boone County, Columbia Parks and Recreation, MU, Missouri Stream Team, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Firestone Complete Auto Care, among others.
“The thing that is so amazing is that all these organizations come and work together,” Heimos said.
Sustain Mizzou is a chapter of the Missouri Stream Team and usually holds their own clean ups a couple times each year.
Missouri Stream Team members can take classes supplementing activities they can do on the creek. A couple members of Sustain Mizzou have taken an intro class about macro and vertebrate sampling, and are able to identify the health condition of the stream, in addition to cleaning it up.
Sustain Mizzou’s site was at the Hinkson Recreation Center off of Mick Deaver Drive.
“This is basically our backyard,” Project Leader Ross Obernuefemann said.
This site is an especially litter-prone area because it is a flood-plain, allowing for easy movement of trash when water levels rise, Oberneufemann said.
Similar to what happened at other work sites, Sustain Mizzou trenched through frigid water and mud, picking up broken bottles and cans, digging up tires and pulling trash out of entwined roots.
“I would be picking up trash anyways, I just can’t walk by it,” Obernuefemann said.
Sustain Mizzou collected more than six large bags of trash, six tires and other unidentifiable metal objects in two hours.
Sustain Mizzou member Julie Zender said it’s a good excuse to get out in the woods.
“It’s a small thing, but you feel good after,” she said
Alpha Phi Omega, another student organization, also participated in the event. Alpha Phi Omega has been volunteering for more highway and stream clean ups because the events give members more opportunity to get involved.
“I love doing stuff when you can see an immediate physical difference,” Alpha Phi Omega member Daniel Burke-Aguero said.
A barbecue was held afterwards at Firestone for Clean Sweep volunteers. Firestone contributed to the Clean Sweep effort by collecting and disposing of any tires found during the event.
Sierra Club Water Sentinels Director Scott Dye said he estimated one ton of garbage was collected Saturday.
Heimos said the sad part is he could take a whole new group of people to the same areas tomorrow and recover the same amount of trash.
Heimos said volunteers were able to see the effects of littering and realize how much it really adds up.
“It’s easier to just throw it out in the first place,” he said.