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County wants you to adopt a road

Kitsap County has plans to implement a road adoption program, deputizing volunteers to pick up litter and otherwise maintain their neighborhood streets.

“We want to give people an opportunity to do something good for the community,” said Recycling Coordinator David Peters. “We think it will decrease litter. If those who litter see their neighbors out there picking it up, then maybe they’ll stop littering.”

The program is expected to be approved at Monday’s regular meeting of the Kitsap County commissioners. In addition to passing this new resolution, the commissioners are expected to rescind an outdated 1977 road adoption ordinance.

A state program is now in effect, with all state roads in Kitsap County currently sponsored by corporations or individuals. Motorists are reminded of the sponsors by signs indicating their name and affiliation.

The county program keeps a lower profile. Potential participants submit an application to maintain a stretch of road. An inspector will then check it for safety and award the sponsorship on a first-come, first-served basis (although Peters said if multiple people want to work on the same road he will suggest they work together).

There are no signs proclaiming the sponsor’s name. This is a financial issue, because the county can’t afford to erect a sign for each sponsor, especially since the road segments are typically quite small.

Also, the sponsorship is subject to change.

“If someone signs up and doesn’t follow through, we will just thank them for their help and make other arrangements,” Peters said.

There is considerable flexibility in the program. While there is a legal distinction between county and city roads, all county municipalities are participating in the program. The borders, then, are irrelevant.

People can adopt as much — or as little — of a road as they wish. Adoptees need to be at least 15 years old and must agree to pick up litter a minimum of twice a year.

Peters said this is an arbitrary limit and that some roads will require more attention than others. On the other hand, someone who takes the same five-mile walk every day can dispose of the litter almost as soon as it appears.

“We’re trying to accommodate everyone, whatever they want to do,” Peters said.

The cost of the program is imprecise, and takes into account variables such as staff time and disposal costs. The county will provide the needed hardware — fluorescent hats and vests, signs, poles, first-aid kits and other essentials.

Volunteers are required to complete an application form, which is available on-line. They are asked to provide three choices of road. All volunteers must take a short safety course and sign a liability release — although “excess accidental medical coverage” is provided by the county.

Program Coordinator Kevin Bevel-himer said the safety training is mostly common sense, but includes advice about avoiding stinging plants and working around guard rails.

Bevelhimer will inspect all roads prior to granting the sponsorship. If he determines it’s unsafe due to steep banks, ravines or dangerous curves, the applicant will be awarded their second choice.

At that point, the first road will be placed on the schedule of one of the county’s three professional litter crews.

Peters said while the county’s litter problem is significant, it is neither better nor worse than any other part of the country.

In 2003, the last year for which statistics are available, county road crews picked up 124,000 pounds of garbage along 611 miles of road.

According to Peters, the littering problem decreased significantly in the 1960s after a government awareness program pointed out its danger to the environment. At that point, the program was deemed a success and then discontinued.

“You don’t have the education there anymore,” he said, “so it’s gotten worse.

The program has been in effect on a smaller scale for several months in order to get the process in working order.

Those wishing to participate in the program should call the Open Line (360) 337-5777 or fill out an on-line application at www.kitsapgov.com/sw/adoptaroad.asp.

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