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February is Friends of the Sunflower River Month

“The River with a

Bad Case of the Blues”

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Upcoming this weekend:

Friday, Feb 14th -- Full Big-Hearted Moon. Full moon trip on the Mississippi River in the big canoe. No previous experience necessary, but must enjoy cold weather and be willing to paddle. Meet 1pm on Friday Feb 14th; end 9pm. What could better tickle the romantic spirits more than paddling into the flickering light of the full Valentine’s Day Moon rising over the steel blue waters of the Lower Mississippi River? Reservations required. Call or write now and reserve your spot in the big canoe!

Saturday, Feb 15th -- Annual General Membership Meeting of the Friends of the Sunflower River (12noon potluck behind Quapaw Canoe Company. We'll provide the fire and the enamel eatware. Bring whatever you want to share. All welcome to attend. $25 annual dues)

Saturday, Feb 15th -- Sunflower River Cleanup 1pm meet behind Quapaw Canoe Company (following 12noon potluck meeting). Bring gloves and trash bags and dress for the weather which is forecast to be sunny with a high of 56. Barn boots and wool socks are best for the sticky, stinky mud. Canoes or paddlboards provided with paddles and life jackets, or pick up trash from the riverbank.

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River Rightin' Reflections

by Braxton Barden

Saturday was the first official cleanup for Friends of the Sunflower 2014. The turnout numbers were somewhat low. However, the hardcore river rats that showed up were truly dedicated to reducing the amount of trash inhabiting our downtown river.

My canoe partner for the day, our newest apprentice Lucas, is a 17 year old college student at Coahoma Community College. As one can imagine, he has lots of energy and I was further inspired by his enthusiasm for the task at hand. To back up a bit, the week prior to the cleanup I was sent out to take photos of the river. When I was reviewing the pictures, I was concerned by the amount of pictures of trash. In particular the foam cups from Sonic. I'm pretty sure my main objective was to show the beauty of the river through the lens. Back to the task at hand, when I pointed out the amount of trash floating on the surface compared to the trash that sinks Lucas gave a good visual. He stated, "It's just like the iceberg effect". I was happy to see that even at a young age, he has the wisdom to not just think about what is on the surface.

They say “Join the Navy and see the World.” One thing I've learned that travel truly broadens ones views and it is easier to see common problems that cross borders and cultures. Countries that aren't as fortunate as America in an economic sense tend to reutilize there resources more frequently. Others that have economic success and are limited on space and natural resources have robust recycling programs and are better stewards of their natural spaces. I've had the good fortune to have mentors that pushed me towards dedicating a portion of my time to community service projects. Due to my love of paddling and the outdoors, the majority of the projects I have volunteered for have been waterborne cleanups, rivers, lakes, oceans etc. After pitching in to help cleanup around the world and here in the states, stuff that floats seems to get most of the attention. Unfortunately, since the Sunflower flows through a populated area there is lots of stuff that floats that shouldn't be there. While not the worst cleanup as far as debris goes, the Sunflower sure could use some help.

Just as water flows downhill, so does trash. Next time you are at the gas station take a look around. What do you see? More than likely, discarded disposable coffee cups, plastics wrappers, cigarette butts, the list goes on and on like Bubba from Forest Gump. Thank goodness for heavy rains, culverts, creeks, and rivers to wash away our troubles. Who knows were it goes, but who really cares as long as it goes. If you think otherwise, get on up out of your house and let's get to cleaning.

Braxton Barden is a Mighty Quapaw guide, teacher, and retired Navy Chief.

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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

brought to you courtesy of the:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

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