FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  
March 26, 2021

Clare Cloyd
612-760-5074 (c)

City of Saint Paul and Twin Cities partners kick off app-based community science project ‘Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative’ 

Project to enlist community volunteers through open-source app ‘Marine Debris Tracker’ to help scientists and leaders better understand plastic pollution and take informed action 

SAINT PAUL — The City of Saint Paul has partnered with other Mississippi River leaders and organizations to launch the Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative. Under the leadership of Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI), the mayors of the Mississippi River in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme, National Geographic Society and the University of Georgia have launched an initiative to combat plastic pollution along one of the world’s greatest waterways. 

Using the smartphone app ‘Marine Debris Tracker’, community volunteers of any experience level can help track plastics and other trash to help scientists, policy-makers, businesses, and community members take informed action. 

Saint Paul, along with Saint Louis, MO and Baton Rouge, LA, will kick off the pilot phase of this initiative from April 1-25, 2021. All data collected during this time using the free, open-source app Marine Debris Tracker, under the MRCTI tab, will be analyzed to help understand the state of plastic pollution along the Mississippi River. The pilot will be the first data snapshot in an ongoing endeavor to promote education and outreach about plastics in inland waters and support local data collection events in Mississippi watershed communities. The app is currently available on Android and iPhone.  

“As the capital city in the headwater state of the Mississippi River, we have a responsibility to send clean water to the rest of the country and beyond,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “Through the MRCTI Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative, our community can engage in supporting thriving neighborhoods, parks, and waterways while contributing to a national, river-wide initiative.” 

Community members can collect data on their own or as part of an organized event, such as Saint Paul’s annual Citywide Spring Cleanup on April 24 from 9am-11:30am.  

1 Mississippi is hosting all the local information on the initiative, the app, tracking maps and partner led events, as well as ways individuals can stay involved beyond April, on their website.

Local Twin Cities Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative partners include Mississippi River Network/1Mississippi, Friends of the Mississippi River, Mississippi Park Connection, City of Newport, Friends of Pool 2, Rotary Clubs of MN, United Nations Association of MN, Capitol Region Watershed District, Urban Roots MN, Lower Phalen Creek Project, Center for Global Environmental Education, and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 

“As one of the world’s most vital waterways, it is incumbent on us to pilot efforts that will help ensure that major rivers once again are clean arteries of our oceans,” said Colin Wellenkamp, Executive Director of Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI). “Mississippi River Mayors are taking action by mobilizing local communities and working with key partners to deal with single-use plastic pollution to protect our planet and people. This is a collaborative effort for each of our cities, including the City of Saint Paul and the 12+ regional partner organizations involved in the effort.” 

About the Mississippi Rivers Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI)  
MRCTI was created to provide an influential voice for the Mississippi River. MRCTI addresses infrastructure, community development, river water quality and habitat restoration, flooding and floodplain issues, river-focused recreation, sustainable economies, and celebration of the River culture and history. The Mississippi River is critical natural asset. As the ecological linchpin to the 31-state Mississippi River Basin, the River supports the most agriculturally productive region on the planet; creates nearly $500 billion in annual revenue; transports 40 percent of the nation’s agricultural output; and directly supports more than one 1.5 million jobs. 

About Saint Paul Parks and Recreation
Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is a nationally accredited and gold medal award-winning organization that manages over 170 parks and open spaces, AZA-accredited Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, 26 city-operated recreation centers, more than 100 miles of trails, an indoor and two outdoor aquatic facilities, a public beach, a variety of premium sports facilities, municipal golf courses, and Great River Passage – which is the new identity for all proposed public development along Saint Paul’s more than 17 miles of Mississippi riverfront. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is recognized by the Trust for Public Land as the #1 Urban Park System in the USA in 2015, #2 in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and #3 in 2020. For more information, visit


Last Edited: April 6, 2021