If you enjoy to float down Missouri's pristine streams and rivers ... well, you likely have a stream team to thank for the opportunity.

For 50 years now a group called the St. Louis Open Space Council has been working diligently to improve and upkeep eastern Missouri's riverways and adjacent land.

Recently two groups working under the heading of the council, Cherokee Landing Stream Team 1314 and another group made up of several stream teams, spent time cleaning up two sections of Big River.

The "associated stream team" informally made up of members of stream teams 168, 211, 401, 1995, 2926, 3419 and 4660 cleaned up a 5-mile stretch of river spanning from Vo-Tech Bridge to the Highway K bridge. The team consisted of nine people in nine canoes.

The Cherokee Landing Stream Team 1314, comprised of 10 people and six canoes, worked on a six mile stretch of river running from the Highway K bridge downstream to the north U.S. 67 bridge near Cherokee Landing.  

According to the Missouri Stream Team website, "Missouri has 110,000 miles of streams that provide recreation, water and serenity." But those creeks and rivers do not stay pristine and clean without help.

A combination of intentional dumping and trash and other debris being washed into the streams during heavy rains results in unsightly, and sometimes dangerous, litter.

Steve Anderson is one of the owners of Cherokee Landing and the trip leader for team 1314. Due to his business ties he has a vested interest in keeping Big River clean, but as a citizen of Missouri he wants to see every stream in the state kept as close to natural as possible.

According to Anderson, the recent work of the local stream team members netted a combined total of 275 tires and two dumpsters of trash being removed from the two stretches of Big River.

Personnel with St. Francois State Park, of which Big River passes through just upstream from where it crosses under U.S. 67 near Cherokee Landing north of Bonne Terre, agreed to dispose of the two dumpsters of debris. The nearly 300 tires were sent to a tire shredding facility in High Ridge, Mo., to be recycled.

According to the St. Louis Open Space Council's webpage, the 50-year-old organization has played "an integral role in restoring and supporting a clean and healthy Meramec River; helping establish Castlewood State Park, Forest 44 Conservation Area and Beetree County Park; restoring more than three thousand acres of land, and almost 500 miles of river permanently conserving an urban organic farm, which Earthdance Farms now owns and operates; and helping to thwart efforts to dam the Meramec River."

The organization's website goes on to say, "As stewards of nature, we work to maintain the integrity of land and waterways for practical purposes, recreation and their natural beauty, to be enjoyed now and for generations to come. Through environmental and community building events such as Operation Clean Stream and Operation Wild Lands, The Open Space Council seeks to raise awareness about the importance of land and water conservation and the value of clean water."

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