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Editorial: Adopt-a-Highway by all means; adopt some caution, too

Keeping roadsides clean of trash and recyclables is a worthy exercise, but certainly not a risk-free one. Remember, just a year ago three Chippewa Falls Girl Scouts and a mother lost their lives participating in this community service endeavor.

We join the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in reminding drivers to keep a watchful eye out for Adopt-a-Highway volunteers as they walk near state and local highways to collect a winter's worth of accumulated trash.

"When drivers see crews out working, we ask that they slow down and, when possible, move over to provide additional working space," WisDOT Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson says.

Wisconsin has approximately 2,735 Adopt-a-Highway groups. No one really knows how many individuals that includes since each "crew" might be anything from an individual to a single family to a club of dozens. In any case, they collected 144 tons of trash and recyclables in 2018.

In addition to removing unsightly debris and helping prevent wildlife from eating or getting caught in harmful plastics and more, these crews enhance roadside maintenance capacity. One, maintenance crews can commit less time to trash pickup. Two, clean ditches translate into fewer dollars spent on repairing equipment damaged by hitting trash.

Community volunteers provide a valuable service. Yes, they remove tons of trash and recyclables while keeping roadsides looking clean and green for state residents and visitors. The least motorists can do is stay alert and help ensure that volunteer makes it home.