Operation Clean Stream

Since 1967, The Open Space Council for the St. Louis Region has organized Operation Clean Stream, one of the country’s largest and longest running river restoration projects. Every August, volunteers take to the Meramec River and its tributaries, working to undo damage caused throughout the year by flooding, careless littering and the unlawful dumping of debris. Volunteers participate both in canoes and boats, as well as on the shore, in nearby parks, and along nearby trails.

Volunteer for Operation Clean Stream August 15 – 23, 2020

Due to COVID-19, we invite you and those in your immediate household/family to clean up a site of your choice any time during August 15 – 23, 2020. To keep volunteers safe, there will be no group cleanups or picnics this year.

Registration has now ended.  We have a limited number of volunteer spots still available at several locations – if you would like to volunteer at one of these sites please email info@openspacestl.org. Locations available are: Meramec State Park, Fox Creek (Wildwood Access and Eureka Access), and Hamilton-Carr Creek. If you have your own boat, we have many river sections we can recommend. Please reach out to us and we will work with you to find a good section for you and your family to clean up. 

Registration for Ozark Outdoors is ongoing. Please select the Ozark Outdoors ticket at ocs2020.eventbrite.com. Volunteers MUST call Ozark Outdoors in Leasburg at (573) 245-6837 to schedule your cleanup and reserve your free canoe. You must let Ozark Outdoors know you are with Operation Clean Stream when you make your reservation in order to receive a free canoe. Canoes are free every day of the week but Saturday.

Immediate households/families can volunteer on land or on the water by bringing their own boats and shuttling. To help determine what site is best suited for your household, sites have been graded for volunteer accessibility – the grading scale is below:

  • Grade A: On Land – Flat. Open. Suitable for all ages and some limited mobility. On Water – Easy Float.
  • Grade B: On Land – Some Slopes. Some Brush. Recommended for ages 9 and up. Full mobility suggested. On Water – Moderate float for those with some experience.
  • Grade C: On Land – Heavy trash. Heavy brush. Steep slopes. Full mobility needed. Recommended for ages 16 and up. On Water – Moderately Strenuous float for those who are experienced paddlers.
  • Grade D: On Land – Experienced volunteers only. Heavy lifting. Steep slopes. Heavy brush. May involve heavy equipment and power tools for the majority of trash removed. On Water – Strenuous float only for those who are experienced paddlers and are able to respond to quickly changing conditions on the water.

During the past few months, we have seen how important parks, open spaces and the natural environment is to our communities’ health and well-being. We thank you for helping to keep them beautiful and clean!

Special thanks to the Bayer, Great Rivers Greenway, Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Missouri American Water, Mountain Hardwear, the Meramec River Recreation Association, the Carl Morrow Annual Giving Program, On the Run, Meramec Valley Bank, Missouri Stream Teams, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri State Parks, Saint Louis County Parks, STL Rolloff Container and so many more for supporting this year’s event!

Report Your Cleanup

After you have completed your self-guided Operation Clean Stream cleanup, please fill out a report form to let us know how much trash you removed! If you found large items you could not remove, you may report these on the form as well. The reporting form is available here. If you encountered hazardous materials, report them to the proper authorities and the Open Space Council at info@openspacestl.org. Learn more about hazardous waste protocol at cleanups here.

When you report your results you will be entered into a raffle for a gift certificate to Creve Coeur Lake Rentals! You can also enter photos from your cleanup into our photo contest in three categories: Weirdest Trash Item, Best Trash Selfie and Best “Mask On” Photo. When you share your photos on social media be sure to use the hashtags #OCS2020 and #CityWideSTL. You can receive a FREE 4-pack of City Wide Beer when you visit 4 Hands Brewery and show them the post of your photo with the hashtags.

To be eligible, your report must be submitted by August 31 at 12:00am CST. Read the full rules here.

Safety Guidelines for Participating in Operation Clean Stream

Remember to:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth mask
  • Practice social distancing from non-household members
  • Volunteer with buddies (household members, groups smaller than 10), or alone. If you are volunteering alone , make sure someone knows your plan (site location, return time, etc.)
  • Sanitize hands frequently
  • Wash hands frequently with warm water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds
  • Do not carpool with non-household members
  • Do not share equipment, gloves, litter bags, etc. without proper sanitizing between handlers
    If equipment must be shared establish a sanitizing station
  • If volunteering on the water, always wear a Personal Flotation Device

Stay home if you:

  • Have a temperature higher than 98.6 degrees F
  • Have had COVID-19 related symptoms in the last 14 days (dry cough, fever, shortness of breath, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of taste and smell, or any combination thereof)
  • Have been near someone who has COVID-19 or live with someone considered high risk
  • Encounter large groups of people, you can return to the site at another time

DOWNLOAD the Open Space Council’s Safety Fact Sheet for quick reference here: OCS Fact Sheet + COVID-19 safety.

For more information on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) click here.

Contact the Open Space Council at info@openspacestl.org or 314-835-9225.


Past Events

Check out our blog for results & photos from past Operation Clean Stream events!

“When an area is kept free of trash & other debris, visitors are more respectful & reluctant to add trash to the area.” 30 year veteran volunteer, Jerry Castillon