No, I don't mean a child or a pet. The adoption I'm talking about deals with roads, right-of-ways, trails, parks, beauty spots, public areas and shorelines. This type of adoption is a way for all of us to enhance the properties and help keep them free of litter and debris. In some cases, the assistance may not only be cleaning and picking up but also physical improvements to the area. In some cases it can mean beautification through plantings of native prairie plants, trees and shrubs, fix ups, paint ups, and more.
For travelers that are new to the area, the first impression that our public areas and roadways provide creates an initial image to the visitor that is either positive or negative. The image that you want for your community is one that makes people feel good and leaves a comfortable feeling about your place.
Most of us have a favorite place that we have a special affinity for or use frequently. It can be a:
Roadway that you travel repeatedly
Segment of trail that you enjoy
Wildlife area that you use for viewing or hunting
Lake or river that you like to boat on
Special park area that you visit often
Fishing spot you favor.
Take your choice and see if the local public management agency would like to have you adopt the area to clean up litter periodically or to beautify it. Be prepared to offer a longer term commitment than simply a one-time effort. The clean-up of public areas is costly well over $15 million per year. We can all help, not only because it is the right thing to do and helps to reduce the agency and taxpayer costs, but, because we appreciate and personally enjoy the areas and the comfortable values that they provide to us. A bonus is to involve youth from the community to be a part of the project what a great benefit.
One of the best known programs is the Adopt-a-Highway program run by the Iowa Department of Transportation - www.iowadot.gov/maintenance/adopt_a_highway.html
You can also find the web site by using www.keepiowabeautiful.com.
A real benefit to those adopting the State Roadway segments is that they get their name on a sign identifying them as the adopter of that particular segment of road. It lets the public know that you care and are doing your part to help.
Some county and city road and street programs also have adoption programs. You will need to contact your local county engineer or the city public works director for more information.
Natural lands, parks, shorelines in some cases are also open for adoption contact your local DNR office or the local county conservation board or city parks department to see if there is an adoption program and of your interest in helping.
Keeping Iowa clean and attractive takes a partnership effort of caring citizens, the user and the management agency in terms of prevention as well as the clean up and beautification of the areas. The traveling public and our own citizens develop a sense of pride and respect for these places.
Like any adoption, continued care and nourishment for the adopted is critical. Make your New Year's Resolution for you, your family, service club, church group or friends to adopt a public area and renew it each year.