Scores of volunteers fanned out to area parks, walking trails and streams in Kansas City and Lee’s Summit on Saturday to do some early spring cleaning.
The three late winter snow storms that hit the area pushed tons of trash, rusted toys, tires, bottles and debris up and beyond the banks of area waterways such as Indian Creek in south Kansas City and onto parkland near area walking and bicycle trails.
“I have never seen it quite so bad; the snow hides the litter so people don’t see it,” said Leslie Alford, executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association, who helped organize a cleanup crew in south Kansas City. “It just sits there until now when it shows up.”
On Saturday, volunteers met at the Trailside Center at 99th Street and Holmes Road and collected trash on the walking trail along Indian Creek.
The pleasant weather on Saturday was ideal. Alford said it was important to collect the debris early in the season before poison ivy and other vegetation and grass begin to grow.
“If you don’t pick this up and everything grows, it just hides it and then next winter you see more of it,” she said.
The cleanup area was expanded because earlier this year participants with the Great Backyard Bird Count noticed dozens of bottles containing shampoo, conditioner and other haircare products had been dumped near the creek.
“I wish people would be a bit more cognizant of their environment,” said Steve Rinne, a south Kansas City resident who was among those who made the discovery. Rinne returned Saturday to help in the clean up effort.
He and Alford said it would take additional work and more volunteers to collect all of the trash they found on Saturday.
“This is great but we can have three or four times as many people and three or four more days to clean up all of this,” Rinne said.
Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte and his 8-year-old son, Truman, were among the volunteers to pitch in.
“This is great spring day and I had a free morning so I figured I would take advantage of it.” Schulte said.
The city has added walking and bicycle trails and it was important those areas remain free of debris and preserved, Schulte said.
“The Indian Creek trail is an entryway into Kansas City for visitors and it is one of the first impressions they see,” he said.
Schulte and his son, Truman, collected several bags of trash including an old computer, lots of beer and soda cans, a ring off of a barrel, landscaping material and other debris.
However, the noticeable blood scrapes across Schulte’s face prove the volunteer work wasn’t easy.
“If you don’t walk away with a war wound then it wasn’t worth investing the time,” he joked.
Truman, on the other hand, had a different perspective because he was working on his public service Cub Scout badge.
Elsewhere, in Lee’s Summit, about 120 volunteers collected trash and debris near the baseball fields and the lake area at Legacy Park, located at 901 N.E. Bluestem Drive. The volunteer effort was part of the annual Sweep the Summit and Stream Team initiative.
Volunteers, many of whom were high school students, collected an assortment of trash, including an antique typewriter and a refrigerator door, said Kara Taylor, the city’s environmental programs coordinator.
“Some items were old and rusted and it looked it had been out there for a while,” Taylor said.