Groups collect nearly 1 million pounds of litter
Motorists in southwest Idaho will see a lot of things alongside heavily traveled Interstate 84 and U.S. 20, but what they wont notice is a proliferation of trash.
Thats where members of the Caldwell Lions Club and the Ada County Inmate Labor Program regularly patrol. Combined, the groups harvested nearly 500,000 tons of discarded, displaced or drifting litter.
Members of both organizations will be honored Friday (June 18) at about 10 a.m. as District 3 Adopt-A-Highway outstanding groups of the year. A brief ceremony is planned as part of the monthly Idaho Transportation Board meeting at the District 3 office, 8150 W. Chinden Blvd.
The Caldwell organization is responsible for keeping a three-mile section of U.S. 20 clean (from milepost 27 to 30). Members exceed the obligatory semiannual cleanup, usually adding another one or two sweeps each year. Turnouts usually attract 15-20 members, explains Nicki Shull, volunteer coordinator for ITDs District 3.
In the past year, the group bagged 6,335 pounds of trash and logged more than 230 combined hours of work, Shull said. The group has participated in ITDs Adopt-A-Highway program since October of 1991.
Participants in the Ada County Inmate Labor Program could keep their own landfill stocked with debris. The past year, they harvested 910,595 pounds of refuse from the shoulders of I-84, between Meridian and Mountain Home.
Shull estimates that more than 30 individuals help with the quarterly cleanup, logging a total of 89,068 hours on the interstate. Their 32-mile section (mileposts 40-72) is the largest Adopt-A-Highway stretch in Idaho.
Like the Caldwell Lions Club, the inmate group has been active in the Adopt-A-Highway program since 1991.
Both groups do an incredible job in their adopted sections, Shull said. These are especially heavily traveled routes that collect a lot of litter. Without the dedication of these two groups, the highway shoulders would look much different, and it wouldnt be suitable for a postcard.
Representatives will receive a custom-made clock, fashioned from a replica of an Idaho license plate, and a certificate. They also will be acknowledged as groups of the year on signs posted near their assigned routes.
They are among more than 150 groups actively cleaning the sides of highways in southwest Idahos District 3.
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.