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.

Register for a site of your choice at ocs2020.eventbrite.com from June 26 – August 7. Registration is required in order to receive important information; upon registering you can order clean up supplies (bags, gloves, t-shirts) for curbside pickup from several central locations. Before the event, you’ll receive detailed instructions on how to access your chosen site, where to put your trash, and how to report your results. 

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, 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!

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