Independence bird lover laments trash amidst the beauty

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

Renata Beaudoin is an avid birder – seeking out and returning to ideal spots to view the local variety of the winged and feathered animals. 

One particular bird of interest has been the great blue heron, though the Independence resident has noticed it in an unfortunate setting this spring. 

A great blue heron stands amid trash at Waterfall Park in Independence.

Beaudoin has spotted the heron, noted for its grayish-blue tint, plumes and long bill, along the lake at Waterfall Park, specifically on the spillway on the east side of Bass Pro Drive. 

“I’ve been taking pictures of him for about five years,” she said, and has even written some inspired poetry. The great blue heron “always makes me feel brand new,” she writes about seeing the bird. 

But this year the heron was dealing with a large amount of trash that piled up on the spillway. 

“He fishes there probably because there’s fish that spill over,” Beaudoin said of the heron. “I’ve noticed (the trash) over time, and this was probably the worst time I’ve ever seen it like that.” 

“His diet does not consist of plastic bottles and thrown-away masks and McDonald’s bags.” 

Beaudoin took her concern to Bass Pro Shops, whose store is on the opposite side of the lake from the park. The company notes an extensive conservation foundation named after its founder Johnny Morris, but the city of Independence, not the outdoors store chain, owns the lake space. After contacting city staff, the situation improved, she said. 

“There was some evidence of them cleaning it up,” she said. “It wasn’t perfect, but it had definitely been picked up a bit.” 

The lake and the spillway attract some recreational fishers, Beaudoin said, though she acknowledged the trash could originate from just about anywhere around the lake, which is surrounded by a walking trail and has several stores besides Bass Pro nearby. 

“That could certainly be, that it washes down,” she said.  

Beaudoin is not critical of the park maintenance. Rather, she said she wants to avoid the need for that much trash pick-up in the first place. Beaudoin wishes some people would stop whatever littering habit they might have that causes trash buildups in places of nature. 

“We can’t change people’s habits,” she laments, but she still made concerned inquiries because as a birder, “It’s about bird life and habitats and the legacy we need to be handing on to the next generation. 

“I’d be happy,” she said, “to be just raising some awareness.”