The end of winter is in sight and thoughts of spring cleaning are on the minds of the Iowa Department of Transportation. The agency is revamping its popular Adopt-A-Highway program to make it even easier for individuals or groups to help keep Iowa roadsides beautiful.
When it was developed decades ago, the AAH program was an innovative way to get community groups involved in cleaning up Iowa’s roadsides. The program has been successful in providing a meaningful public service project for groups, families, and individuals all over Iowa, while at the same time reducing the amount of Iowa DOT staff time needed for litter pick up, allowing them time to complete other maintenance tasks.
A new online sign up process has streamlined the AAH sign up process. Anyone interested in seeing which roadsides are available for adoption can simply go to www.iowadot.gov and search for Adopt a Highway. The easy-to-follow web site will guide you through the sign up process.
What to expect after you sign up
You can participate in a variety of activities including litter removal and planting and/or maintenance of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and native grasses on your adopted stretch of roadway. AAH activities reduce litter along highways, enhance the environment, beautify roadsides, and build community support for anti-litter and highway beautification programs. Litter removal is automatically included in every Adopt-A-Highway sponsorship, even if the main project may be landscaping or another activity. New ideas on how to beautify Iowa’s roadsides are encouraged.
Groups or individuals adopting sections of highway will be responsible for that roadside for a minimum of two years. Litter removal must be done at least twice a year or as necessary to keep the area clean. Litter pickup on primary roads must include both sides of the highway. Interstate highway litter pickup will be on one side of the highway.
A minimum distance for adoption is 0.5 mile for special project work. However, adoption of at least 2 miles is required for litter pickup. The sponsor must be willing to separate litter according to the requirements of the landfill used by the local Iowa DOT maintenance garage. The sponsor may retain any recyclables and take them to a recycler of the sponsor’s choice. Signs featuring our state flower, the wild rose, will be erected by the Iowa DOT at no cost to the sponsor to recognize the efforts of adopting groups or individuals.
Benefits to our environment
Caring for roadsides will not only make them more attractive to the traveling public, but will also make major improvements in our environment. Grassy roadsides provide habitat for ground nesting birds, such as pheasants, quail, meadowlarks, and many other song birds. Roadsides also provide excellent habitat for other wildlife. Many roadside plantings provide a source of food for wildlife.
Over the last 30 years the Iowa DOT has planted millions of trees, shrubs and wildflowers to better protect our environment and add to the enjoyment of those who travel in Iowa. Litter is a blight on those beautiful roadsides. We need your help to keep Iowa beautiful.