Guidelines put in place for the safety of floaters

Crystal-clear spring-fed waters, along with gravel and sandbars, attract tens of thousands of visitors to Missouri’s streams. 

This summer looks to be no different, especially as May saw some unusually high temperatures. 

Michelle Turner

To beat the heat, there’s nothing like a great float trip with family, friends, or simply riding solo. 

Yet, a float trip can be quickly ruined when people do not follow the rules of the waterways. 

Kayla Harper has spent her life enjoying all that Missouri streams have to offer, but she’s become frustrated in recent years with the increased levels of trash and hazards found in and near streams.  

“I’ve been on more float trips than I can count between my childhood and now,” Kayla shared. 

“I can say there’s been an increase in trash. People just don’t seem to care. This is particularly true near the resorts that are known for party floats.” 

Kayla doesn’t just view the trash as an eyesore; she’s seen it cause a lot of problems.

“I’ve seen people cut by broken glass in the river. It’s a huge safety issue. When you’re in the river, you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if you’re going to step on a piece of glass,” Kayla added.

Due to issues like this, the Missouri Highway Patrol Water Division has published guidelines for people who intend to float Missouri’s streams. 

One such area they touch upon is the use of glass on the waterways and banks. The document states, “No one may have or use glass containers for beverages within a vessel.” 

Kate Mills is another individual who has a lifelong love for floating Missouri’s waterways, and she agrees with this rule for many reasons. 

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“There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy a relaxing day on the river and being worried about stepping on glass and getting cut. Worse yet, having to wade through trash. I want to enjoy the river, not be frustrated by it.”

Even with rules in place, people like Kate have seen them broken all too often.

“It’s heartbreaking because it’s not hard to clean up after yourself. Also, almost all of the beverages people want to drink on a float trip come in non-glass options. You can have a good time without sneaking glass onto the rivers,” Kate added. 

The solution that Kate alludes to is simple: keep your float trip glass-free. 

Better yet, one can also follow the suggestion made by the Missouri Highway Patrol Water Division and “take your trash with you after your float.”

After Gary Rice moved to Missouri from California, he fell in love with our waterways and enjoys them often. 

Gary agrees with the “packing out what you pack in” philosophy whole-heartedly. Yet, he’s expanded it to include picking up the trash left by other people. 

“Myself and many others who enjoy the outdoors have adopted the ‘take some back with you’ attitude,” Gary explained. 

“Sometimes I will arrive at a site and find litter left by previous visitors. It takes very little trash to spoil any location.

“That said, picking up a little trash when you find it is easy and can have a profound effect. Practicing the habit of taking a little with you can help encourage those around you to do the same.”

Gary, Kate, Kayla, and all of us at the River Hills Traveler are all hopeful that people will realize that guidelines for floating were made to make the experience safe and enjoyable for all who hit the steams in Missouri. 

As Gary added, “I know we have all seen rules ignored, but the intention here is for the good of the greatest number of people. So, get out on the water and enjoy. I’ll see you out there.”

If you would like more information about glass containers and littering on Missouri’s waterways, simply do an online Google search for the Missouri Highway Patrol Water Division. 

That will lead you to their website where you can research the various guidelines and safety tips that they have to offer. 

(Michelle Turner lives in Union, Mo.)

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