Lead a Creek Cleanup

From "How to Organize a Suburban Watershed Creek Trash Cleanup" by Randy Woods of Ladue Creeks Stream Team #3851.

Total time frame: 17 weeks

Week 1

  1. Form a small, manageable, focused project committee
  2. Set a realistic project goal
    1. Trash only cleanup
    2. Define geographic boundaries
  3. Become familiar with the watershed and drainages
    1. Obtain good maps and other geographic and geologic information
    2. Survey amount and nature of trash
    3. Locate waterway access points along roadways
  4. Set a cleanup date clear of conflicts with other community activities.
  5. Contact the Missouri Department of Conservation to:
    1. form an official Missouri Stream Team and obtain:
      1. Advice and guidance
        • Printed and web-based materials
        • Contact with other experienced Stream Teams
      2. Materials for volunteers
        • Work gloves
        • Stream Team T-shirts
        • Trash bags in several sizes
        • First Aid Kits
        • Other items as available

Weeks 2 & 3

  1. Contact your local municipality
    1. Obtain official sanction for the cleanup effort
    2. Obtain names of neighborhood trustees, organizers, or other civic groups
    3. Obtain whatever support available
      1. Trash pickup services and trash consolidation locations
      2. Publicity
      3. Venue for after party
      4. Funding for activities
      5. Public safety
      6. Other services
    4. Request government assistance with cleanup on public property

Weeks 3 & 4

MSD provided a dumpster for the Ladue Creeks Cleanup. © Deer Creek Friends.
  1. Seek help and partnerships with public utilities and other resources
    1. Sewer District
      1. Information
      2. Advice on sewer hazards
      3. Trash collection and dumpster
      4. Other assistance
    2. Parks Department
    3. Garden Clubs
    4. Civic organizations or other influential groups

Weeks 4 & 5

  1. Locate streams, creeks, and drainages on a detailed city or county map showing individual ownership parcels along the waterways
  2. Identify names and addresses of creek side owners from public records on county websites

Weeks 5 & 6

  1. Delineate manageable segments of waterways by neighborhood, subdivision, or other logical criteria
    1. Print detailed ownership maps from county records by segmen.
      1. Mark specific creek segment on each map
      2. Print lists of creek side owners by segment

Weeks 7 & 8

  1. Contact individuals within these boundaries to identify “Creek Captains” responsible for organizing neighborhood cleanups by segment.
    1. Captains are key team leaders. They should:
      1. Reconnoiter their creek segment
        • Identify hazards or safety issues
        • Estimate amount of trash
        • Estimate numbers of volunteers required and time required
      2. Obtain permissions and support from their neighborhood owners
      3. Recruit volunteers from their areas
      4. Act as liaison between Stream Team organizers and neighbors
      5. Promote the event.
      6. Supervise the cleanup.
      7. Provide a record of activities.

Week 9 to end

  1. Manage the captains
    1. Meet them face-to-face
    2. Keep them informed of the big picture
    3. Provide them detailed information and maps of their segments
    4. Brief them on safety and other procedures
    5. Get feedback on their local segments
      1. Private homeowner or landowner issues
      2. Access, egress, or safety concerns
      3. Amounts of trash
        • Number and type of trash bags
        • Special trash retrieval needs
      4. Number of volunteers
        • Numbers and sizes of T-shirts and gloves
      5. Trash consolidation point locations
      6. Mobile phone numbers for event day
    6. Provide extra volunteers if requested
    7. Provide encouragement and gratitude
  2. band
    The Shanty Town Players entertain at the Ladue Creeks Cleanup after party. © Deer Creek Friends.
    Organize a volunteer appreciation event for after the cleanup if possible.
    1. Find a suitable public venue
    2. Set date (a reasonably short time after cleanup day)
    3. Solicit donated snacks and beverages
    4. Set a brief program of announcements or acknowledgements
      1. Thank partners, sponsors, government, and institutions
      2. Thank captains and volunteers
    5. Procure donated snacks and beverages
    6. Procure other amenities if possible
      1. Music
      2. Prizes for interesting trash finds

Week 13

  1. Order supplies from MDC
  2. Reconfirm all other arrangements
  3. Manage publicity to the benefit of the project

Weeks 14 & 15

  1. Obtain and distribute all materials to captains
    1. Brief captains on final details and information
    2. Provide encouragement
    3. Promote the post-cleanup event

Week 16

  1. Cleanup Day!

Week 17

  1. Collect reports from captains
  2. Prepare a detailed report and submit to MDC, local authorities, and partners
    1. Report hazards and watershed issues
  3. Send thank you notes to all captains, sponsors, and partners
  4. Enjoy Volunteer Appreciation event
  5. Take a vacation!