Fishing line, diapers, and beer cans
Volunteers pick up tons of trash at reservoir
Lloyd Davies intended to get the 15th annual Marion Reservoir cleanup day started promptly at 9 a.m. Saturday, but he couldn’t; a crush of volunteers was still busy filling out paperwork and scrambling for doughnuts and coffee.
“We were so packed in the shed signing up that it was hard to move around,” Davies said. “I usually order 10 dozen doughnuts and had thought about cutting it back to eight, but for the first time they were all gone by late morning.”
Helping to put a dent in the pastries was a group of Marion Elementary School Honor Society students, who participated in the event as a service project.
“I’m here to help the environment,” Macie Brewer said. “I want our environment to be all clean instead of trashy.”
Most of the 79 volunteers fanned out from the Corps of Engineers office to 11 sites from one end of the reservoir to the other, while MES students and their adult sponsors tackled more than a mile of shoreline, campsites, and roads at Marion Cove.
Davies gets gloves, bags, T-shirts, and give-away items each year from Missouri Department of Conservation. One of the items, whistles, particularly appealed to the kids.
“It was funny, I kept thinking there were birds calling down there with the Marion Elementary kids,” Davies said.
The kids started at the beach by the dam and worked northward, scampering through brush and trees and along the shore.
“It’s like an Easter egg hunt or a treasure hunt,” sponsor Brian Frese said. “They’re doing great. They’re getting everything, I think, digging it out of places.”
Momentarily sidetracked at times by youthful fascination with dead fish and a one-winged hawk carcass, the most surprising discovery among the beer cans and bottles, trash, and fishing bobbers they collected was a baby’s diaper.
“I found it,” Gabby Newell said.
Alexanderfeld Mennonite Church youth group, Marion High School Key Club, and Marion Cub Scout/Boy Scout Troop also participated, and together with other volunteers helped to fill two dumpsters with trash.
Davies said the event was “by far my most successful.” He estimated the haul to weigh about two tons.
“I really did think the rains would deter folks a bit, but it seems to have had the opposite effect, with nothing else to do but go slop around the reservoir,” he said. “Down below the spillway when the Key Club kids swarmed in, I don’t know what look they had on their faces, but I guess the fishermen were defending themselves saying the trash around them wasn’t theirs.”
Davies said he wants to expand next year’s cleanup to include the river below the dam, as well as use canoes and kayaks to access more shoreline.