Cleaning up your Stream

Stream Cleanup

The first highly encouraged activity for Adopt-A-Stream volunAdopt-A-Stream Logoteers is to cleanup your stream! Most volunteers will want to do this because they have already demonstrated concern for their particular stream by adopting it! Litter and trash in a stream, particularly at bridge crossings is an unfortunate but common sight throughout Mississippi, indeed across the nation. Litter not only detracts from the scenic beauty of our waterways, but can also endanger fish and wildlife. In larger streams and rivers, litter and debris can clog municipal and industrial water intakes, and are often a source of water pollutants such as toxic chemicals and bacteria. You cannot personally police every waterway in the state, but you can at least clean up portions of your adopted stream.

Helpful hints for getting started:

  • Consider accessibility, safety, location and necessity when choosing a waterway cleanup site.
  • Pick a waterway that is meaningful to you, your group and your community. Have several sites in mind.
  • Do not over commit. Make sure your crew can handle the stretch of waterway you want to adopt. Limit your cleanup plans to a reasonable length of time, possibly 2-3 hours so that you do not overwork your volunteers.
  • Remember, the segment must be at least one-quarter mile.
  • Contact streamside landowners. Always obtain permission in writing before entering private or public land. Inform your volunteers of property boundaries.
  • Inspect the area before the event. Float or walk the section you plan to clean.
  • Organization is important. Decide upon access points, takeout points, collection areas, and time required to clean the stream section.
  • Determine how trash will be disposed. Arrange for vehicles to haul trash to the disposal sites.
  • Be sure to recycle any aluminum cans, milk jugs, etc. that you pick up.
  • Solicit media coverage. Don’t forget to contact radio, television and newspapers ahead of time.
  • Be aware of weather reports and river levels. Kick off the event with a safety lecture. Make every effort to provide for the safety of your volunteers.
  • Be flexible.
  • Have fun!

Safety Tips:

  • Don’t go near any large drums. They could contain toxic chemicals.
  • Report any drums and other possible hazardous materials to the Department of Environmental Quality.
  • Be careful with sharp objects. Wear leather gloves.
  • Stay away from unsafe areas such as log jams and swift currents.
  • Watch out for snakes. Water moccasins are common in Mississippi!
  • Don’t lift anything too heavy.
  • Properly dispose of any tires or batteries you find.
  • Have a first aid kit available.

Other Ideas:

  • Go a bit further, clean up around highways and bridge crossings.
  • Invite landowners to help.
  • Plan cleanups for a pretty day, pack a picnic lunch, include your family and/or friends.
  • Let the Mississippi Wildlife Federation know whenever you have a trash pickup.
  • Don’t forget it is up to you to recruit volunteers, generate financial support for food, if you wish to supply it, obtain t-shirts, etc.