You’d have to forgive Lori Krause if she believes a section of Idaho highway is going to pot. But her observation isn’t related to the condition of U.S. 26 or noxious vegetation growing along its shoulders. Instead, her conclusion could be linked to what highway cleanup crews have discovered along the highway shoulders … bags of marijuana, or pot or weed.
Krause and fellow employees of the South Fork Lodge in Swan Valley have been cleaning a 3.5-mile segment of U.S. 26 the past nine years as part of ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway program. Baggies of marijuana, perhaps tossed from a car to avoid detection during a traffic stop, were among the more unusual items found during regular cleanups.
Volunteers also recovered a trailer hitch and other items, such as fast-food containers discarded by passing motorists.
For their diligence, representatives of the lodge were honored last week as the District 6 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year. In recognition, representatives accepted a framed certificate and a clock fashioned from a sample Idaho license plate from board member Lee Gagner.
Volunteers removed an estimated 2,450 pounds of refuse from the highway during their 2008 campaign. Usually they conduct two or three cleanups per year, Krause explains. Even family members and the manager’s children have been involved in cleaning the section of highway. The clean-up efforts help instill in children the need to safeguard their environment, she explains.
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.
Approximately 1,100 groups spent nearly 57,000-person hours statewide removing litter in 2008, collecting an estimated 1.9 million pounds of litter from Idaho’s roadsides.
About half of Idaho’s highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved. The volume of material collected makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said Sherie Sweaney, statewide AAH coordinator.
The estimated value of the cleanup labor is equivalent to more than $730,000 – savings that can be applied to other projects, improving highway safety and driving conditions. For more information about adopting a stretch of highway, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.