A volunteer group helping with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful’s Hillsborough River & Coastal Cleanup.

For anyone wanting to help out the local environment and make it nicer to look at and spend time in, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) is holding its Hillsborough River & Coastal Cleanup (HRCC) this month as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

The HRCC will be held at various locations along the Hillsborough River, Alafia River, Little Manatee River, Lake Thonotosassa and other waterways throughout Hillsborough County. Some landlocked areas will also have sites, as an estimated 80 percent of land trash ends up in waterways. So far, around 20 sites have been established, but more are planned.

KTBB works entirely with volunteers, and it’s always in need of more, including ones to be site captains, who are responsible for signage, supplies and managing a site’s operation. Site captains are given safety training, and they’ll give safety information to volunteers. In the 2018 event alone, 3,084 volunteers collected 67,195 lbs. of litter and debris from local roads and waterways.

“I personally have just found it really rewarding getting to go out and see how enthusiastic all our volunteers are … and it really helps seeing everybody so happy to be out there,” said Kira Baker, environmental project coordinator at KTBB. “Without them, we wouldn’t see this difference, and they really are making a difference.”

Baker added that she could only imagine how bad things would be without KTBB’s frequent volunteers.

This HRCC will be different from KTBB’s other cleanups, as it’s giving volunteers the opportunity to help the Ocean Conservancy gather information — by collecting items and recording data, like what items they find, the amount of each kind and the strangest finds — needed for future efforts as well as spread awareness of these needs. The most common litter found in waterways are plastic pieces, along with cigarette butts, plastic bottles and foam pieces. The strangest include e-scooters, a bike rack and a piano, among many others.

The cleanup will be held on Saturday, September 17. Check-in is at 8 a.m., and the cleanup is from 8 a.m.-11 a.m., or until completion. Times may vary by site. For more information or to become a volunteer or site captain, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/hillsborough-river-coastal-cleanup-2022-tickets-392525423107 or email Baker at projects@keeptbb.org. To learn more about KTBB, visit www.keeptampabaybeautiful.org.

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Taylor Wells
Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.