The haul included debris from fireworks, beer cars, soda pop bottles, diapers, broken lawn chairs and even a household appliance.

About 21 volunteers walked along and into the Finley River to clean up one of Christian County’s most popular swimming holes on July 9. Lidenlure is a destination for hundreds of people each year, nestled on the Finley River off of Missouri Highway 125 east of Ozark and north of Sparta. The area on and below Lindenlure Dam is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, picnics and simply enjoying time outside.

It’s also a popular spot for pollution, but that’s where a group of Missouri Stream Team volunteers comes in to clean up. After the 2019 Fourth of July holiday, volunteers spent much of their cleanup efforts picking up the remnants left from fireworks.

It’s a small bit of work traded for hours of enjoying nature.

“You use the river so much, you’ve got to give back,” Stream Team volunteer Jeff Hensley said, moments after he tossed a bag full of trash onto a flatbed trailer.

They started as a loosely organized group of friends from Ozark who wanted to take care of the Finley River while passing on a message of conservation to their kids. Husband and wife Eleazar and Jessica Soto of Ozark administer the group, and arrange for the trash to be hauled away once it’s out of the river.

The Missouri Stream Team program is a working partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation and citizens who are concerned with Missouri streams. Many Missouri Stream Teams are run through organizations such as 4-H, the Boy Scouts of America, school classes of civic groups. The Linderlure group, however, is only organized so far as its Facebook group and its face-to-face networking.

On a muggy Tuesday evening, the group filled a trailer with trash bags in about an hour, but it was a light load compared to clean up nights of the past.

“That’s a good problem to have,” one Stream Team member said.

“It’s nice that it’s not as bad,” another remarked.

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