St. Louis County’s Buder Park Cleanup was scheduled after the winter 2016 floods
that affected the Meramec basin. So when the spring 2017 floods hit, The Great 168 knew
we would be busy. We prepared for a haul, but were quite surprised by the results.
Flood debris is always a mixed bag, because such a variety of things get washed
away. A cross-section of life flows in the water; homes, businesses, cars, and all the small pieces in between.
While the big objects draw the attention, it’s the small things that carry
weight. Think about the bottles, cups, and straws along streets or parking lots.
The rain flushes this litter down the storm sewer, into the creeks, then the river.
This trash rides along, until the water drops it in the watershed. Wildlife can
mistake the litter for food, or get entangled, injured, or worse. If the litter is
swept away again, it adds to islands of trash in the oceans, harming marine
wildlife. See, it’s not all about the tires.
The cleanup on November 11th came with sunshine and an amazing crew of 81 hardworking volunteers. We had all ages and experience levels, with
everyone jumping in. Eureka High School students (Team 5064) hauled giant structures
out of the trees, while a group of smart fourth grade girls moved the biggest tire
of the day. It was a powerful, meticulous crowd.
Overall the count was an impressive 201 tires and 1,240 pounds of metal,
but the trash total was inspiring. The floatables and fluff filled bag after bag,
adding up to 55 cubic yards of litter. More than originally expected, more than
the dumpster would hold. Now that litter won’t flood away or harm the life in
the woods and water. That’s how 81 people made a huge impact on one sunny