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Editorial - Make a difference on our roads

You see them from time to time, walking along the ditches, picking up trash and stuffing the junk into garbage bags that will be picked up later.

But do you appreciate just how much of a difference these "Adopt a Highway" volunteers are making?

These hard working volunteers clear 26,000 tons of clutter per year, saving the state an estimated $6 million annually, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The Adopt a Highway program currently is staffed by more than 49,000 volunteers from the public who are helping to clean up 11,000 miles of Minnesota's highways.

"They volunteer because they want to keep Minnesota highways beautiful and they take pride in what they do," said Ernest Lloyd, state Adopt a Highway program administrator. "Because of their contributions, our crews can spend more time on highway improvement and safety projects."

As impressive as the 49,000 number may sound, the program could use more help. MnDOT sent out a call this week for more volunteers to help with the public service campaign.

It's easy to join the effort. It doesn't take a lot of red tape or paperwork to wade through. As part of the program, the volunteer groups agree to:

• Adopt a highway for a minimum of two years.

• Select a segment of highway approximately two miles in length.

• Pick up litter on both sides of the highway.

• Pick up litter as often as needed from spring through fall, usually two to three times.

MnDOT provides safety vests for each volunteer and trash bags for cleanup events. The high-visibility color and reflective tape help make litter crews more visible to passing motorists.

MnDOT crews pick up the filled bags and large, heavy or hazardous items from the roadside after the group completes its cleanup. State workers, not volunteers, are responsible for litter pick-up along the interstate.

Those interested in adopting a highway are urged to visit the website

/adopt/contacts.html to find out whom to contact in their area. Douglas County is in District 4. Here's the contact information: Darlene Hynding, 1000 Hwy 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501; (218) 846-3600 or 1-800-657-3984; or e-mail

Here's a chance to get outside, get some exercise and work with others to make our roads look better. What's stopping you?