Adopt-a-Roadside program begins

person throwing old tire

Enjoy time outside and give back to the community with a new Adopt-a-Roadside program beginning through Dickinson County Conservation.

“I basically saw litter being an issue in the roadsides during work the last few years, and I think this is a good way to get groups of people involved in the environment,” said Douglas Todey, Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program manager with Dickinson County Conservation.

Todey said he has seen everything in county roadsides from cans and bottles to mattresses, microwaves and plastics.

“Being an outdoor-focused county, I think there is a need and want for this program,” Todey said. “We don’t want litter and garbage to run off into the lakes. We don’t want to see garbage floating around our beaches.”

He is coordinating groups of people who will adopt at least one mile of roadway, including both ditches, to clean up twice per year for a minimum of two years. Those enrolled in the Adopt-a-Roadside program will be supplied gloves, vests, roads signs and bags as well as a safety briefing. After cleaning up the ditches, bags of garbage will be left at the site to be picked up.

“All the work picking up the litter after the cleanup event is then taken care of by us,” Todey said.

There is no minimum or maximum for the number of people needed per group, and all ages are welcome to participate. However, those younger than 16 must have at least one adult supervising per four youth.

This new program is something Todey has wanted to do for about a year, and as he takes over as IRVM manager on March 30, this was the perfect time to get started.

Todey sees the Adopt-a-Roadside program as having multiple benefits — roadside beautification, wildlife protection, water quality protection and even hazard prevention. Last year, he said a county mower ran over unseen rope in the ditch, which became wrapped up in the mower blades, causing a dangerous situation.

“It’s for hazards as well as beautification,” Todey said.

In addition, Adopt-a-Roadside will help the public learn the importance of the IRVM program to Dickinson County. The goals of the program are to replant county rights-of-way with native prairie that will decrease water run-off, increase water quality, improve wildlife habitat, beautify roadways and reduce invasive species.

“The new roadway program will get the public involved and interested and more knowledgeable about our program,” Todey said.

His goal is to have 50 miles of roadway adopted in the first year, and groups can sign up at any time by e-mailing Todey at dtodey@co.dickinson.ia.uscreate new email.

“I’m hoping there are groups interested and that we get that accomplished,” Todey said. “If we can inspire other counties, that would be fantastic as well.”