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Litter removal campaign makes way into California

POSTED September 18, 2012 8:50 p.m.

The non-profit group Pick Up America is headed toward the Central Valley to help with the removal of trash from the area’s roadways and highways.

Pick Up America is the country’s first coast to coast litter removal project. A band of volunteers, nicknamed the Pick Up Artists, have been making their way across the nation picking up trash and promoting a transition to a zero waste lifestyle.

The group began in March 2010 at Assateague Island in Maryland and plan to reach San Francisco in November. Along the way they have collected 180,147 pounds of litter over 3,211 miles. They have traveled through Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. The California segment is cover 330 miles across the state.

The Pick Up America campaign is scheduled to arrive at the Lee Vining Ranger Station (about one mile up Tioga Pass from Route 395) on Saturday. They’ve scheduled litter pick ups starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers are asked to come out and help with the clean up. Volunteers should bring their own water and snacks and the group will provide bags, gloves, trash grabbers and reflective vests.

Over the following days, the group will head through Yosemite National Park, and through Groveland then to Modesto and travel north to Salida, Ripon and Manteca, ending up in Stockton before heading to Brentwood.

The California Department of Transportation also has an Adopt-A-Highway Program, which provides an avenue for individuals, organizations, or businesses to help maintain sections of roadside within California's State Highway System. Groups have the option to participate as volunteers or to hire a maintenance service provider to perform the work on their behalf.

Through the Adopt-A-Highway program, which began in 1989, more than 120,000 Californians have cleaned and enhanced over 15,000 shoulder-miles of roadside.

In addition to the economic costs, litter presents a wide range of serious threats to the environment and human health, according to Caltrans. Wildlife can suffer from plastics in the environment; roadside vegetation can be damaged by large debris; fires can be started from burning cigarettes that can threaten human health; harmful chemicals and biohazards can cause a serious threat to human health; litter can clog roadway drainage systems that can lead to wet-weather highway flooding, congestion and accidents, and can aid in the spread of disease.

For more information on joining the Pick Up America events visit www.pickupamaerica.org.

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