Poised for the annual Great American Cleanup, scheduled for Saturday, April 16, Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department and Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful are hoping to see a great turnout of volunteers.
“This is a big day for us and we appreciate our volunteers, both young and old, many of whom have been supporting this years’ effort,” said Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department Environmental Specialist Jennifer Roberts.
Roberts explained that volunteers will be picking up trash and trimming the hiking trail at the Alafia Scrub Nature Preserve, located at 10212 Gibsonton Dr. in Riverview, as well as paddling out to the mangrove islands to pick up trash within the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve, located at 3709 Gulf City Rd. in Ruskin.
“We paddle out to the mangrove islands we find lumber, bottles, buckets and fishing paraphernalia floating around, most of which are left behind by visitors to the preserve,” she said. “Many people are eating lunch and leaving behind the trash.”     
While emphasizing the impact on the area during the Great American Cleanup, Roberts mentioned that residents should continue to be mindful of picking up after themselves regularly.
“You don’t have to wait until the annual cleanup to keep the preserve attractive and clean,” she said.
The preserve consists of mangroves islands stretching north from the mouth of Cockroach Bay into the Little Manatee River as far east as U.S. Hwy. 41, with salt marshes, tidal flats, salterns, oyster bars and 732 acres of uplands, totaling more than 8,000 acres.
Those wishing to participate in the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve cleanup should register at www.khcbonline.org prior to the event since space is limited. Participants should be comfortable with paddling a canoe or kayak, wear closed-toed shoes and be prepared to walk in the water.
Those wishing to participate in the Alafia Scrub Nature Preserve cleanup can register at www.khcbonline.org, or on location, the morning of the event. Participants are asked to bring loppers and/or trimmers if they have them available and wear closed-toed shoes. Water and snacks will be provided.
 For more information, contact Christine M. Garrett, Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, 672-7876.

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