BLM employees honored for highway cleanup
Its an orphan that doesnt rush to the head of the adoption lines unkempt, unsightly and generally unappealing. It resides between town and the community landfill, attracting little attention from people who drive past.
Disdained by some, a two-mile stretch along U.S. 93 found a place in the hearts of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees. They adopted the oft-littered portion of highway as their own and have been cleaning it the past 14 years as part of the Idaho Transportation Departments Adopt-A-Highway program.
The employee group was recognized for its efforts on May 21 as the District 6 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year. Members opted to receive their award usually presented during a transportation board meeting later in Salmon when everyone can share the limelight. ITD will present a certificate and a custom-made clock as rewards.
They clean the dreaded stretch of highway between mileposts 302 and 304, said Jeff Call, district coordinator of the Adopt-A-Highway program. I say dreaded because it is on the stretch of highway between town and the landfill. Locations like these tend to lead to a lot of litter to pick up.
Unsecured loads are the groups nemesis. Unwanted trash, originally destined to burial at the landfill, often escapes from pickup trucks and trailers and finds temporary lodging along the highway shoulders.
Last year, BLM employees made a clean sweep of the area four times and netted 89 bags of litter, or approximately 3,115 pounds. And that doesnt count large items that cannot be stuffed into a plastic garbage bag things like tires and construction remnants, Call said.
Occasionally members find a few gems hidden among the unwanted trash. On a recent outing, one collector discovered a large bag of new fishing tackle that begged to be put to use. Other collections have produced camp chairs and cash.
The other tangible reward, according to group chairperson Gloria Jakovac, is the camaraderie following the quarterly collections. Group members usually leave enough time in the afternoon to have a potluck dinner.
The Adopt-A-Highway program organizes the cleaning of Idaho roadsides by volunteer groups. Those groups adopt a specific stretch of highway usually two miles long and take responsibility for keeping it clean through regular litter patrols, explains statewide AAH coordinator Sherie Sweaney.
More than 1,200 groups spent approximately 114,000 person-hours removing litter in 2003. About 55 percent of state highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved, Sweaney emphasizes. The volume of material collected from the shoulders of Idaho highways more than doubled the past year, thanks largely to better monitoring and reporting.
Volunteers collected more than 2.3 million pounds of litter, resulting in a savings to the state of nearly a quarter-million dollars that can be applied to other projects that improve safety and driving conditions on Idahos highways.
For information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact
Sweaney at 334-8465 or (800) 443-2878.