An Eastern Idaho Boy Scout troop offers a new twist to an old adage – cleanliness is next to…. U.S. 26.
Members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 12 conducted three cleanup campaigns along the highway the past year, in May, August and October, and for their efforts were chosen the District 6 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year.
Jack Combo, an Idaho Transportation Board member from Idaho Falls, made the announcement at the board’s monthly meeting in Rigby last week. But troop members were engaged in a Scouting camp and were unable to attend the meeting to accept the award – a framed certificate and a clock fashioned from an Idaho license plate. Combo will make a formal presentation to the group in the future.
The troop is responsible for cleaning a two-mile segment of U.S. 26, between mileposts 344 and 346. It adopted the stretch of highway in 1990.
ITD did not maintain an automated database for recording the volume of litter removed from the highway until 1997. In the past decade, however, Troop 12 conducted 16 litter pickups, filling 332 bags that weighed a collective six tons. During that span, Scouts invested a combined 600 person-hours in their efforts.
It is difficult for Scout troops to remain consistent for an extended period, explains ITD's Jeff Call who coordinates the Adopt-A-Highway program in District 6. Youths develop new interests and migrate into and out of the Scouting program. But Troop 12 has been a model of stability in the state’s efforts to keep the highway clean.
“Troop 12 has been successful in passing this program to the different generations of Scouts and leaders over the last 17 years, and we appreciate them very much,” Call said. “We want to honor members and leaders for their consistently great service.”
ITD’s statewide 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 1,100 groups spent approximately 30,000-person hours statewide removing litter in 2006, collecting an estimated 806,000 pounds of litter from Idaho’s roadsides. About 50 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 makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said statewide AAH coordinator, Sherie Sweaney.
Volunteers collected more than 3.1 million pounds of litter, resulting in a savings to the state of more than a quarter-million dollars that can be applied to other projects that improve safety and driving conditions.
For more information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.