Roadsides are a visitor’s introduction to a community, and first impressions can be lasting. Travelers’ opinions of West Virginia are often based on what they observe as they drive along our highways. Tourism has become increasingly important during the last decade and will continue to play a significant role in economic development. Therefore, it is more important than ever that residents uncover the beauty of West Virginia by removing unsightly litter that tarnishes the state’s image, so that residents and visitors alike may enjoy its natural uncontaminated charm.
The Adopt-A-Highway Program is co-sponsored by the Division of Highways and the Department of Environmental Protection, REAP Program. It was established in the late 1980s to improve the quality of the state’s environment by encouraging public involvement in the elimination of highway litter. Its objective is to save taxpayer money by increasing public awareness and to serve as an educational tool by focusing on the consequences of littering. The program offers volunteers the opportunity to take charge of their own environment by making a positive effort to create a cleaner, more aesthetic place in which to live.
Adopting a Highway
Individuals, families, churches, businesses, schools, civic organizations, government agencies, scouting groups, fraternities and communities are among the thousands who are current Adopt-A-Highway participants. Anyone who is at least 12 years old may participate. Any road that is maintained by the Division of Highways is eligible for adoption, with the exception of Interstates and roads deemed unsafe. Volunteers may select a road to adopt and then have it approved by the local Division of Highways office, or they may ask DOH to suggest an adoptable road. Country lanes, dirt roads and routes off the beaten path, as well as major routes, may be adopted. Adopted roads must be at least two miles long. An automobile odometer may be used to measure the distance. The length of the adopted road should be considered carefully, since it is better to adopt two miles and enjoy the project than to adopt a longer stretch that may later become a burden.
Adoptions are for a period of two years, during which time three cleanups are required per year. As volunteers pick up litter, bags that have been filled are placed on roadsides for removal and disposal by the Division of Highways. Garbage bags, safety vests, safety training, traffic warning signs, and gloves are furnished by the state.
Adopted highways are identified by a sign at each end of the section bearing the Adopt-A-Highway logo and the name of the adoptee. Volunteers who complete six required litter pickups within the two-year contract period are awarded a certificate of accomplishment signed by the Governor.
In West Virginia there are currently 25,000 volunteers who regularly pick up litter on 4,000 miles of highway. They have been responsible for removing more than 40 million pounds of litter since the program began. You, too, can be a special person by taking responsibility for your environment and adopting a highway.
Contact the Adopt-A-Highway program at 1-800-322-5530 or visit the WVDEP Adopt A Highway Program website.