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Hundreds Of Volunteers Help Clean Up 12 Miles Of The Blue River

More than 700 volunteers showed up at Lakeside Nature Center Saturday morning to help clean up the Blue River. 

The volunteers divided up into more than 20 groups to clean up different sections of the river. One of the teams stationed at the Coal Mine Pond just off I-435 had their work cut out for them: on top of the usual trash, a 16-foot boat sat underneath the water.

Group leader Jim Armer has been involved in river cleanups for about 10 years. In that time, he's seen just about everything there is to see at the bottom of a riverbed.

"Refrigerators, cars, coolers full of a number of things, illegal items, you find everything out there," he said. "Sometimes people dump toxic barrels of chemicals, but [most of the time] it's just trash."

Armer says that there's a sense of community that forms around river cleanups that keeps him coming back year after year.

"One of the greatest things about this is that it brings an awareness to people that have never been on these waterways," Armer said. "It's terrible that this trash is here, but it's great to be able to include everyone and come together as a community to revitalize these areas."

After enlisting the help of about a dozen volunteers, most of them young children, Jim and his crew successfully got the boat out of the pond.

In total, the volunteers cleaned around 12 miles of the Blue River, which puts the Nature Center's trash collection total at nearly 50 tons for the year. The boat will now be salvaged as much as possible, and whatever parts can't be saved will be properly disposed of.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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