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Hundreds of volunteers are expected for Saturday's annual river cleanup

Provided by Missouri Department of Conservation

Organizers are expecting hundreds of volunteers at the annual Confluence Trash Bash on Saturday morning to clean up trash and debris from riverbanks and streams in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County.

The Trash Bash focuses on the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and has nine work sites stretching from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge to Creve Coeur Lake. This is the eighth year for the event, which is one of the largest litter cleanups in the St. Louis area.

“Thousands of volunteers over the course of time have removed over 5,000 tires and over 61 tons of trash and scrap from the streams and rivers of the area. So it’s been a very successful event,’’ said Dan Zarlenga, media specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, one of the sponsors.

He says there’s likely to be more trash than normal this year due to recent flooding.

Old tires, paper and aluminum cans make up a large portion of the annual trash haul, but volunteers also find cast-off furniture, appliances and clothing. Prizes will be given for the weirdest, biggest and most expensive trash find.

“A lot of this stuff would not get cleaned up if it weren’t for the generosity of the volunteers who give their time,’’ Zarlenga said. “Everyone who volunteers and helps out with this event is really making a difference.’’

Volunteers are urged to  register in advance on the Greenway Network website, where they can choose a work site. Check-in starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, and volunteers will work for about three hours. Trash bags, gloves and a thank-you lunch will be provided.

Zarlenga reminds volunteers that they should dress appropriately and be mindful of weather conditions.

“You are going to be doing a cleanup so you want to wear some things that you don’t mind getting wet or muddy,'' he said. "But that’s all part of the fun.'' 

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.