Walking group honored for highway cleanups
Motorists often see the roadside as a blur, something that flashes past while they are driving from point A to point B. To fully appreciate the beauty firsthand, try walking the route.
Thats what members of the Bonner County Monday Striders do on a regular basis near Sandpoint.
Organized as a way of providing exercise and social interaction, the group recently was honored for its efforts to keep a two-mile section of U.S. 95 free of litter. The Idaho Transportation Board presented the entire group a certificate and plaque during a recent meeting in District 1.
Rosalyn Clark grew up in Bonners Ferry and later moved with her husband to the Puget Sound area where she was part of a hiking group for 16 years. She sought a similar group after returning to northern Idaho, but finding none, formed the Striders in 1991 with the help of Valle Novak.
Now group members meet weekly, regardless of weather, to explore the regions pedestrian paths and recreational trails.
Frequently the destination is off the beaten path, such as Scotchmans Peak or Mineral Point Trail. Winter excursions include cross-country skiing and snowshoe hikes. They even hike in the annual Bonner County Fourth of July parade.
But one route that remains fixed is the two-mile section of U.S. 95, between mileposts 482 and 485 that is a primary route to the Bonner County county landfill. Environment friendly, the group is committed to leaving routes cleaner than when they first arrive. Since joining ITD's Adopt-A-Highway program in 1992, Monday Striders have collected more than 20,000 pounds of trash... plus everything that won't fit into a garbage bag, such as tires and blocks of wood.
Normally 30-40 hikers turn out for the semiannual cleanup effort. Most of the litter they collect is residue from travelers visits to fast food restaurants.
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.
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.
The volume of material collected from the shoulders of Idaho highways more than doubled the past year, largely because of better monitoring and reporting, said statewide AAH coordinator Sherie Sweaney.
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.
For information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at 334-8465 or (800) 443-2878.