District 2 honors Craigmont Lions for highway cleanups

A civic organization in Craigmont that has been cleaning highways in north-central Idaho since the Adopt-A-Highway program began two decades ago was honored recently as the outstanding group of the year in District 2.

Members of the Craigmont Lions Club have always committed their time, energy and resources to improving their community. It seemed a natural extension of their regular city cleanup activities to embrace the Adopt-A-Highway segment, leaders explain.

When they joined the program in 1991, they set their sights on more than the minimum of two miles – they adopted all of U.S. 95 between Craigmont and Ferdinand – a stretch of about eight miles. It remained their exclusive domain until about 1999 when they scaled back their Adopt-A-Highway efforts to a 4.5-mile segment closest to Craigmont.

They wanted to focus on the entrance to the city and to make it more presentable for the annual June picnic at the city park.

Cleanup outings usually draw 8-12 members, and their efforts typically result in 30 to 50 bags of trash and an assortment of tire remnants. Treasures included about half of a giant Pepsi billboard and some spent machine gun belts in the earlier days when the highway ran through Lawyer’s Canyon.

For their dedication, the Lions Club received special recognition in Lewiston April 20. A leader was on hand to accept a framed certificate and a clock fashioned from a sample Idaho license plate.

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 or longer – and take responsibility for keeping it clean through regular litter patrols.
Approximately 1,000 Adopt-A-Highway groups conducted regular cleanups in 2010, logging a total of nearly 58,000 person-hours and saving ITD an estimated $750,000. Through their efforts, ITD is able to commit more resources to highway projects that improve travel conditions and safety.
More than half of Idaho’s highways have been adopted, leaving ample opportunities for other groups and individuals to become involved.

In addition to groups participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program, an increasing number of volunteers also are involved in keeping Idaho highways clean and attractive. In calendar year 2010, they removed 2,814 bags of garbage, or more than 98,000 pounds, from roadsides.

Adopt-A-Highway groups and non-affiliated volunteers make a tremendous difference in the appearance of Idaho’s highways, said Sherie Sweaney, statewide Volunteer Services Coordinator. “It really is gratifying that so many people are committed to keeping our highways clean and attractive,” she said. “It also helps us get the most out of our available highway maintenance funds.”

For more information about adopting a stretch of highway or participating in volunteer services, contact Sweaney at (800) 443-2878.

Published 4-29-2011