Missouri Stream Team Reaches 3,000
Streams are the lifeblood of Missouri landscapes and communities. They are a source of recreation; they hold memories of events with family and friends; and often, towns and livelihoods are built around them. Many of us have streams that are near and dear to our hearts.
Since 1989, Missourians have been signing on to improve and protect our streams. Teams of individuals, families, friends, clubs, scouts, school groups and kindred spirits were created, and people from different backgrounds got the chance to learn about streams, become stewards, and speak out on behalf of the Stream Team program.
With 3,000 Teams on board, an estimated 60,000 members are working to improve our streams. An average of 200 Teams have registered each year since the program began. This was accomplished with very little recruitment effort and reveals how much Missourians care about their stream resources. From the largest rivers in the state to the smallest backyard tributaries, groups have adopted nearly 15,000 miles of flowing water.
As the program has grown, so have the Teams’ projects. It is not uncommon for stream cleanups to involve hundreds of citizens removing many tons of trash in a day’s time. In 2004 alone, 13,500 volunteers removed over 650 tons of trash from Missouri streams! They also planted over 7,000 trees and made over 1,300 trips to their adopted sites to monitor water quality. Stream Team volunteers aren’t satisfied with the ordinary—they aim for extraordinary accomplishments with each outing.
Stream Team projects are chosen according to each Team’s interests and local needs. Some pick up trash, plant trees or stencil storm drains, while others monitor water quality or help educate their community. The level of involvement depends on the amount of time the volunteers have to commit and how deep they want to dig in. The Teams call the shots, but biologists trained in stream management and water quality are available to provide guidance and answer questions.
The program is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. These three groups provide different strengths, resources and areas of expertise to volunteers.
Missouri leads the nation in volunteer stream organizations. Each year, other states seek guidance as they establish their own unique stream adoption programs. We share our experiences and materials with these groups so that no one has to “reinvent the wheel.”
Stream Teams are not limited in the types of