Volunteers spend afternoon cleaning up Blue River - KCTV5

Volunteers spend afternoon cleaning up Blue River

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Volunteers of all ages turned up Saturday morning to clean up the Blue River in hopes of making the environment a little bit better.

Jacqui Vernon is one of hundreds of volunteers, and for the Metropolitan Community College-Longview biology student, Saturday is an up-close look at what she's studying.  

"Used toilet paper - not the worst thing I could have found, but it's pretty bad. That's what gloves are for right?" she said. "It's the environment and taking care of it for the future."

Larry O'Donnell with Friends of Lakeside Nature Center said Project Blue River Rescue makes a healthier ecosystem for the river and all the creeks and streams that feed into it.

"Making people aware of the river, there's trash all the time. We are in an urban area, there's trash tossed out the window on the side of the road, but also you can drop a bottle in a parking lot and the storm water runoff will wash it down in the creek," O'Donnell said. "Basically it's a whole awareness thing."

While the process may not be that glamorous, those volunteering said it's a necessary act.

"It's a connection to nature, being in it. Do I like picking up trash? No," O'Donnell said. "Our whole emphasis is keeping the rivers and streams clean."

Volunteers working from 9 a.m. to noon removed tons of trash, but along Swope Parkway and College Avenue they were also removing honeysuckle.

"It overshadows all the native plants and crowds them out so you lose your biodiversity," O'Donnell said.

This is the 23rd year volunteers have cleaned along the Blue River, and each year they are hoping their efforts will raise awareness of Kansas City's litter problem.

"It's so great to see everyone out here. I think everyone needs to do something to help out," Vernon said. "We drive past this every day, and we see this and are like, ‘somebody should do something.' So today I'm doing something."

Go to lakesidenaturecenter.org for more information about the organization and all it does.  

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