Little green herons are nesting again in Clam Bayou Nature Preserve.
At least four years ago, they weren't.
Garbage that included shopping carts, tires, plastic bottles, furniture, signs and shoes clogged the park's waterways, mostly because an outdated storm system drains the surrounding neighborhoods into Clam Bayou, and the system does not prevent trash from ending up in the bayou.
So Kayak Nature Adventures owner Kurt Zuelsdorf organizes volunteers, leads eco tours and offers a $5 incentive on his kayak rentals to anyone who brings back a bag full of garbage.
"Because of this enormous amount of debris, the birds couldn't get the food because it was hidden behind the debris," said Zuelsdorf, who has spotted about 12 active nests this year.
"It's so important for us to protect all life in the Tampa Bay region beginning in these estuaries. To have any birds nesting after the conditions here is very encouraging."
He added, "That's a perfect example and a perfect reward for our volunteers, whether they picked up a piece of paper or a sofa."