Earth Day: Volunteers gather to clean up Lake Springfield and James River

Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 5:23 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 22, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Volunteers got their hands dirty to clean Springfield waterways for Earth Day.

For Earth Day, the James River Basin Partnership is organizing a clean-up at Lake Springfield and the James River. Around 100 volunteers will gather to clean up shorelines at Southwood Access, Springfield Lake Clay Henshaw Memorial Access (fishing piers), and Tailwaters Access. Volunteers will also spend time cleaning up remote parts of the lake from on the lake itself.

“One of our most valuable resources here in the Ozarks is our waters,” says Todd Wilkinson with James River Basin Partnership. “Not only is it beneficial from the environmental standpoint, but also for recreation, for tourism, from the economic standpoint. If the lakes, rivers, and streams are beautiful and clean, then it’s really a benefit for all of us.”

Wilkinson explains plans for the day originally included a four-mile float down a portion of James River to clean up. Recent rains may make that impossible.

“One of the main things we’re concerned about whenever people go on the water is safety,” says Wilkinson. “And of course, when you’ve got a major rain event then the river rises we don’t want to put them on the water. There’s also a practical side to it too. Much of the trash on the river is found in the weeds and on the gravel bars, and if you have high water, you’re not really gonna be able to get people to those areas.”

The clean-up started around 1 p.m. Friday. Volunteers were asked to pre-register, but Wilkinson says if you want to come out and help, you can. Volunteers who didn’t pre-register ahead of time won’t be able to help with the cleanup on the water.

“They gave us gloves and bags and I have already filled up half of mine and we are only thirty minutes in,” said Pamela Ryan, Volunteer. “ I have found some sort of plastic box,a Dr Pepper can and some cigarette butts.”

“The small things that we all can be doing make one large impact,” says Wilkinson.” Whether it’s putting a rain-barrel system on our house, or getting our septic tanks pumped out, or picking up trash while we’re floating on the lake or the river. If we’re all doing that, it may not seem like a big thing, but when it all comes together it’s really making a difference.”

“Earth Day is every day, and as far as I’m concerned, we teach my daughter that we only have one planet. We must take care of it,” said Ryan.

The James River Basin Partnership is working with the Springfield-Greene County Parks and Recreation, Bass Pro Shops and the Missouri Department of Conservation to put on the event.

This is just one of many Earth Day events happening around Springfield. You can find more here:

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