Burley youth learn benefits of keeping highways clean

Members of the Star Second Ward youth program from Burley prove that you’re never too young to take pride in your community and to lend a hand in keeping it clean. Youths between the ages of 10 and 18 were honored this week as the District 4 Adopt-A-Highway group of the year during the Idaho Transportation Board’s business meeting and tour.

The group received a framed certificate and a clock fashioned from a sample Idaho license plate.

The Star Second Ward group has been patrolling a 4.2-mile section of U.S. 30 since 2000. During their two cleanup outings last year, group members removed more than 5,000 pounds of refuse. Those with keen eyes also found some “planted” treasures, such small amounts of money along the highway shoulders to add a little extra cleaning incentive.

“The youth gain a strong sense of accomplishment and ownership when traveling on their section of U.S.,” said a group leader.

As part of ITD’s Adopt-A-Highway program, the Star Second Ward has formally adopted a segment of the highway west of Burley, between mileposts 252.4 and 256.6.

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 5-20-2011