Sign up, clean up

The snow is gone (hopefully), revealing the beautiful landscape of Central Pennsylvania.

But there are scars all around.

We’re talking about trash.

Trash that people discard from their vehicles along the roads of our region.

They’re polluters.

They’re also law-breakers.

So it’s this time of year when volunteer armies start fighting back.

We’re talking about the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program.

The Adopt-A-Highway program is an army of nearly 86,000 people in 4,900 groups who have “adopted” approximately 10,612 miles of roads in Pennsylvania. And did you know PennDOT spends more than $12.5 million annually for employees to clean up litter along the more than 40,000 miles of state-maintained roads?

Last year, amid the state’s Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful campaign, AAH contributed 20,404 volunteers who cleaned up nearly 16 percent of the collected litter on 10,576 miles of cleaned-up roadway. Indeed, approximately 132,695 volunteers collected over 5.3 million pounds of litter from Pennsylvania’s roads, trails. and shorelines. Over 7,200 events were held, with every county participating.

AAH program volunteers typically collect litter on a two-mile section of highway at least twice a year.

Get off the couch. Give back. Pay it forward.

Form an AAH volunteer group in or near your neighborhood.

Here are AAH facts:

– Program length: two years.

– Area size and location: State highway right-of-ways, including interchange areas, traffic islands or two-mile sections of roadway

– Age requirements: Participants must be 8 years of age or older. There must be at least one adult (18 years of age or older) per eight minors (17 years of age or younger). Minors must have parental permission.

– Events per year: Minimum of two

– PennDOT will provide: safety vests, trash bags, work gloves, “Litter Crew Ahead” signs (by request) and other equipment as required by your PennDOT representative

– PennDOT will: Pick up bagged litter from the roadside and post signs in recognition of your efforts.

PennDOT has created a comprehensive webpage that includes all volunteer opportunities available, from the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania and Adopt-A-Highway to Safety Training, Litter Brigades and more.

Find it at www.penndot.gov.

Or, in District 2, call Christine Lewis at 814-765-0488. In District 3, call Lyndon Mink at 570-368-4224.

Gloves, trash bags, and safety vests for the cleanup campaign will be provided by PennDOT, DEP, and the GLAD Products Company, a national sponsor.

In addition, during “Pick It Up, PA Days” through April 30, registered cleanup events have access to reduced or free disposal at participating landfills, through support from DEP and the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association.

Oh, and by the way, if you see a pothole, call 1-800-FIX-ROAD (349-7623).