Clean up and festival planned for Meramec River and area parks

The Meramec River draws most attention in the Jefferson County area when it escapes its banks, but a big event later this month is planned to provide assistance to the natural resources along the stream.

In addition to clean-up activities on the river, simultaneous events will take place at other public places along the watershed. After the work, some fun is planned with a festival and musical entertainment.

The Dome Life Stream Team Mid-Meramec River Cleanup begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 19, in multiple locations including Don Robinson State Park, Pacific Palisades, LaBarque Creek, Hilda J. Young, and the Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family conservation areas in Jefferson County.

The boat launch at Robertsville State Park on the Meramec River will be busy with clean-up crews for a special event on Saturday, March 19.

Other nearby locations where clean-ups will take place are at Robertsville and Route 66 state parks, Catawissa Conservation Area and Allenton Access. Efforts will focus on land and water trash collections as well as invasive plant species removal.

Robertsville State Park will host the post clean-up festival that afternoon and evening. Beginning at 3:30 p.m. food trucks will be available in the park along with educational and informational booths, nature programs, and activities for all ages. Live local music performances are scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m.

The event and festival are free, but participants must register online at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/4os to select an activity location.

The state Department of Conservation is coordinating the event along with the Missouri Stream Teams organization and Dome Life, a camping life-style clothing brand that commits 10 percent of each purchase to clean-up events at public campgrounds, trail systems and waterways.

LaBarque Creek is one of the St. Louis region’s most pristine wilderness areas.

With the exception of Pacific Palisades, the four other clean-up sites in Jefferson County will focus on improvements to the LaBarque Creek watershed. The stream’s headwaters begin near Don Robinson State Park and the LaBarque Creek Conservation Area. The stream flows northeast through the Glassberg and Young areas where the creek joins the Meramec River.

Considered one of the pristine wildlife spaces in the St. Louis region, the creek and its tributaries are home to at least 54 aquatic species, which is about three times greater than other streams that feed the Meramec River in the area.

Contrary to the wildness of LaBarque Creek, evidence of human habitation and development are often associated with the lower Meramec River. Clean-up and improvement efforts have made great progress, and this event is an opportunity to do more for a resource that has much to offer.

The scars of industrialization and so-called civilization are most evident on the Meramec from its confluence with the Mississippi River at Arnold and throughout most of St. Louis County. In the 26-mile segment designated for attention during the clean-up, the river begins its transition toward the more wild reaches of its upper flows.

Fishing on the river from its cold-water trout areas and along its entire length can be good. The smallmouth bass special management area in Crawford County was one of the first to be implemented in the state. Other popular game fish to target in the Meramec are largemouth and spotted bass, rock bass, catfish and suckers.

When the river floods, and it will again, the community’s attention will be drawn to its potential for devastation, but on Saturday, March 19, volunteers can pay it forward for all the good times the Meramec River is capable of providing.

Originally published by Leader Publications on March 10, 2022.

Published by John J. Winkelman

A freelance outdoor writer for more than 30 years

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