The 18th annual Stockton Lake Cleanup event was held Saturday, Sept.13. Mother Nature smiled on us once again and rewarded us with sunny skies. It was a chilly start, but we will take that over working in the rain any day.

We had 167 volunteers present to support the mission of ridding our recreation and natural resource areas of trash which accumulated over the season. They conducted litter pickup, planted flowers and shrubs, trimmed trees along the trails and other trail maintenance. Divers did underwater cleanup at beach areas removing bottles, cans and pull tabs along with other debris. More than 2,000 pounds of trash was removed from our public lands, including everything from food wrappers, bottles, cans and diapers to bed frames, car parts, toilets and vanities. It can’t be emphasized enough the amount of good things the volunteers accomplish each year. Our dedicated volunteers continue to remain committed to this worthy cause year after year, and many of them drive great distances. We have volunteers from as far away as Brighton, Bolivar, Buffalo, Cabool, Granby, Kansas City, Lebanon, Springfield, Stockton and towns in between. We have individuals, school groups such as FFA, National Honor Society and science clubs; the Cub and Boy Scout troops and packs, the Girl Scouts and 4-H groups, church youth groups, American Legion Post 230 and the Stockton JROTC, the Kansas City Frogmen Dive Club, Missouri Department of Conservation, Stockton State Park staff and Missouri Stream Team; Agapé Boarding School, the Cedar County Republican staff and the Step Ahead group with Good Samaritan Boys Ranch. It is a huge testament to their perseverance and dedication, and our hats are off to commend them.

We also have to give a huge salute of gratitude to the area businesses, Woods Supermarket, concerned individuals, the Stockton Area Chamber of Commerce and Missouri Stream Team for their donations which contribute greatly to the continued success of the lake cleanup. They provide food, services, supplies and prizes. Without a doubt, their generosity is a major factor when celebrating the success of this event and the ability to move forward with the cleanup each year. We also are fortunate to have the Kansas City Frogmen Dive Club joining forces with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Missouri Stream Team and National Public Lands Day team to host this event.

In a perfect world, people would not litter. Our natural resources are a gift and responsibility to all of us to maintain and preserve. The need to respect the land and water, the wildlife which inhabits these areas and our recreating public is paramount. We hope the Stockton Lake Cleanup event continues to reinforce the importance of accepting this responsibility. Until that is achieved, we ask your continued support of our lake cleanup event each year. It always is the second Saturday in September, and we hope to see you next year.

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