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New efforts underway to clean Hillsborough River

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TAMPA – New efforts are underway to keep trash out of the Hillsborough River.

Bob Luce, a local wildlife photographer, has served as a one-man army against litter in the river.

"I love to take pictures of wildlife," Luce said. "But the litter. It's just horrible."

Especially after a large rain, Luce sees the storm drains filled with trash. That's when he takes his camera out, capturing startling images of wildlife forced to swim alongside our garbage.

He's retrieved a loaded pistol, syringes, bottles, tires, shopping carts and more out of the river.

"It's endless," Luce said. "It doesn't stop."

Much of the trash comes from garbage left on the street that washes into storm drains, and eventually the river.

"80 percent of trash on our streets end up in our water ways," said Christina Arenas, Environmental Program Manager for Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful is now helping further protect the river by installing new "Watergoats" or barriers that help trap trash. Pinellas County has already installed similar measures.

They are also looking for volunteers to help with their Trash Free Water Day event on January 14. Sign up here.

"It's our earth," Arenas said. "It's our community. so it's up to us to make sure we keep our paradise litter free."

Luce is hopeful about the future but said in the meantime, he's not standing down.

"Now I realize because this is our primary source of drinking water, it's a good idea to keep it clean," he said.

He said he will continue to clean up the river and hopes others will follow him.

• View Bob Luce’s wildlife videos on YouTube.

Register online for the Trash Free Water Day event.