When entering Pine-Strawberry on Highway 87, it is hard to overlook the trash piling up on the side of the roadway.

I walked a stretch of the highway recently and found a plethora of items that have collected on the side of the road. Tiny liquor bottles, masks, to-go cups, broken scissors, plastic, a tire, and so much more.

I think our corridor suffers from being the entrance to the Gila County dump, and while there are fines for unsecured loads, trash flies out of the backs of trucks. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) officials do not always recommend you stop and pick it up.

Between Payson and Pine-Strawberry, there is one section of roadway open for adoption in the Adopt-A-Highway program, as I found on the ADOT website. The section is just north of Payson.

There are several miles that are determined “unadoptable” for safety reasons, said ADOT spokesperson Gavin Groff. Those sections may have narrow highway shoulders and/or no space to park or walk safely, he said. These miles are cleaned up by ADOT maintenance crews.

“Litter removal around the Payson area was very limited this summer given that traffic volumes remained very high this summer and traffic control is needed for ADOT crews to safely work so close to all those vehicles and in areas with no shoulder,” Groff said.

ADOT does not have a date scheduled to remove litter on north SR 87. To the north of Payson, crews are working to complete this year’s pavement preservation projects while temperatures are still warm enough. ADOT intends to resume litter removal as soon as crews complete critical projects and can schedule traffic control while also minimizing traffic impacts, he said.

The adopted sections are cleaned by volunteers who are encouraged to clean their one mile section three times a year, but only required to clean it once a year. But alas, COVID can’t stay out of anything. This requirement has been lifted, meaning volunteers can clean, but are not required to as it may affect their heath.

“We don’t want them to put themselves at risk during this pandemic,” Groff said.

So how can we help? First, adopt an open mile. Anyone is eligible to adopt. Go to ADOT.gov and follow the prompts. Second, check out the signs that exist, find those groups and offer to clean with them or for them.

And the third and most important option — keep your trash in your vehicle and secure your load. Keeping our highway clean takes all of us doing something.

Christmas fun

Every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 20, the Rusty Pine Cone at 3788 N. Highway 87 in Pine will host kid friendly activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This includes a chance to chat with Santa and Mrs. Claus and shop with the elves.

On special times there will be performances by the Singing Sisters. Bring your young ones and your young at heart for some Christmas joy.

Christmas for needy Pine-Strawberry kids

Mountain Village Foundation has toy donation boxes in Linda’s Unique Treasures and the Sportsman Chalet in Strawberry and the Early Bird restaurant, Uncle Tom’s Kwik Stop, and the Rusty Pine Cone in Pine. They are asking for donations of unwrapped new gifts for ages newborn to 18 years of age, as well as stocking stuffers.

If you would like to send a donation directly to the Mountain Village Foundation, mail it to P.O. Box 715, Pine, AZ 85544.

Christmas lights

Since it is likely that community Christmas traditions may also get canceled, if you are planning on being a spectacularly decorated home this year, and would like me to add your address to a list that people can visit by vehicle, safely social distancing, email me your details at myndibrogdon@msn.com.

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