Past Projects

When we say we’re “coming to a river near you,” we mean it. And when there’s a need or disaster, Living Lands & Waters is known to respond to the call for help. Learn more about some of our past projects and recovery efforts that we’re most proud of.

Hurricane Harvey Relief –  In September of 2017 the LL&W crew and friends headed to Houston, TX to aid in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Loaded up with 3 campers and a cargo trailer full of tools, the crew spent nearly 3 weeks gutting homes for 11 different families.

“At the end of the day, only studs remained. Fungicide was sprayed. Trash was gone. Fans were on. It was a blank slate to work from. We’d lost everything, but we were grateful.

 Then, to top it off, one of the LL&W crew members recovered my wedding ring, which had been lost when my wife and I evacuated our home. They were a true blessing!” – Matt Marshall, Homeowner

  • 19 Days
  • 14 Crew Members
  • Campers: 3
  • Trailer: 1
  • Houses gutted: 6
  • Houses drywalled: 3
  • Repaired roofs: 2
  • Total families: 11
  • PB&J’s eaten: Way too many.


Tennessee River Tour – LL&W took our barges and operations down the Tennessee River for the first time ever in  April/ May of 2015!!! The Tennessee River Tour kicked off at its headwaters in Knoxville, TN and continued down river with stops scheduled in Chattanooga, TN; Decatur, AL; Muscle Shoals/Florence, AL; Paris, TN, and Paducah, KY! Along the way we partnered with cities, government agencies and other conservation groups to host educational workshops, river cleanups, tree plantings and other conservation activities!

Hurricane Katrina Relief – On September 24, 2005 our four barges hitched a ride on the hip of a commercial towboat to start our journey to the delta after the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana. We were loaded with 900 sheets of drywall, 200 sheets of plywood, 100 2x4s, over 20 pallets of shingles and tar paper, and two full-size semi containers stocked with insulation, drywall tape and compound. For nine weeks, we handed out building supplies, removed fallen trees, and gutted out homes of over 70 families and individuals who were devastated by the Hurricane.

Plum Island – For decades Plum Island located on the Illinois River in Starved Rock State Park was used for recreation. Just after being saved from expansive development by the Audubon Society, LL&W was contracted in 2007 to clean up the island and in four weeks removed several derelict cabins, a sunken houseboat, trucks, tractors, cars, and much more. Now that it’s been cleaned up, this 50-acre island has been turned into a bird sanctuary.

LL&W continues to assist with the restoration of Plum Island by assisting with the planting and care of hundreds of native hardwood trees.

Cedar Rapids Flood Relief – On June 13, 2008, the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, crested just over 31 feet, surpassing the previous record of 19.27 feet, set in 1993. Thirteen hundred city blocks were flooded, coining it “Iowa’s Katrina.” Homes were lost, historic sites and buildings were scoured, and remnants were washed away into the swollen river.

Never before had the crew seen such a high concentration of refuse. For three weeks after the waters receded, the crew and nearly 100 volunteers began cleaning up the inundated shorelines and banks. The crew returned in March 2009 to host Alternative Spring Break and brought in 174 college students to help clean up the area.

Finally in June 2009, exactly one year after the devastating flooding in the Cedar Rapids area, Living Lands & Waters returned with 132 more volunteers. This hard core team removed nearly 100,000 lbs. of debris in just three hours, setting a record for the most garbage collected in a one day cleanup!


past-projects2Wisconsin River Relief – When a part of the county highway that encompassed Lake Delton near the Wisconsin Dells gave way under pressure in June of 2008, the lake completely emptied into the Wisconsin River. The torrent washed away three homes and destroyed foundations in another two. Huge portions of these homes were swept away, spreading debris down a 24-mile stretch of the river. LL&W worked with the Dept. of Natural Resources and quickly mobilized our crew and equipment. For the next 25 days, our crew and 31 volunteers (who contributed 631 hours of labor) battled sandbars and low water to clear 200,000 pounds of debris from over 100 various sites. And…we completed the work five days ahead of schedule.

Louisville, Kentucky XStream Cleanup – In the spring of 2008-2010, LL&W brought the model of the successful Quad Cities Xstream Cleanups to Louisville, KY. Each year volunteers cleaned up 21-31 different sites during this city-wide cleanup. After having just over 100 volunteers participate in the first year, each subsequent year participation doubled…and so did the amount of garbage collected!

The Green Revolution – LL&W hosted 5 Green Revolution Conferences in 2009. Nearly 600 high school students and teachers attended the one-day conferences, learning new ways to save energy and reduce waste. The goal of the conference was to teach, inspire, and motivate the youth to take action and encourage positive change in their communities. Conferences were held in:

Moline, Illinois
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Paul, Minnesota
Peoria, Illinois
Paducah, Kentucky


Potomac & Anacostia Cleanups – From 2004-2007, the LL&W crew headed east and spent each April in our Nation’s Capitol to host Capital River Relief: Team Up to Clean Up. Hundreds of volunteers, including many federal staffers, representatives, and more rolled up their sleeves and did their part to protect the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.