Pet Peeves: Adopt-A-Highway

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By Mark D. Crantz

By Mark Crantz

Laguna Beach has considered taking over Laguna Canyon Road for some time. Me, too. Well, not the Laguna Canyon Road specifically, but another two-mile stretch somewhere. Like residential property, it’s all about location, location, location.

I’ve been looking. It’s been over thirty years since the Adopt-A-Highway program began. I didn’t want to adopt when my kids were still at home. I didn’t want to hear, “Dad, you spend more time on the road than with us. We don’t care anymore for quality time with you. We would be happy to get any time, even boring time at home. Oh, we almost forgot, Happy Father’s Day.”

So, I waited. The kids are grown now, and it’s time to give back to society. Forty-eight states provide an Adopt-A-Highway opportunity to civic organizations and individuals. The programs are free but require the participants to clean up litter four to six times a year. On its macadam surface, it seems like a rock-solid program. But I’ve looked closer and see some cracks.

I had considered part of the Teton Pass Highway in western Wyoming. It’s a beautiful stretch of highway serving the tourist hubs of Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. At first line brushing, I thought it would be a beautiful place to pick up trash. Almost like a vacation while working. So, I went to take a closer look. When I got there, a good portion of the two-mile stretch was gone in a landslide. In its place was an eighty-foot ravine. This will put a damper on many summer vacations. I’ve inquired if the landslide was an Adopt-A-Highway section. Road crews informed me they weren’t sure. However, as a general rule on cave-ins, they first look for the Adopt-A-Highway sign. Should one be found, they search for the adoptive parent. Well, thank goodness, I didn’t pick this spot.

I’m not sure the Adopt-A-Highway program goes far enough. It’s a losing battle picking up after litter bugs. I’m thinking of stepping up the trash removal program by going directly to the source of the problem: the people tossing it. My new program is called “Catch a Litterbug.” Through the help of traffic cameras, I’ll get video evidence of litterbugs across the country. I’ll then exercise a citizen’s arrest warrant. The captured litterbug will be placed in a large mason jar at the stretch of the infraction. I’ll be sure to poke holes in the lid so the litterbug can breathe. For first offenders, grass can be put in the jar for offender comfort. The litterbug will be forced to watch fellow litterbugs throw stuff at him for a period of two to four weeks. Like caught lightning bugs, the litterbugs’ light will dim about throwing any more trash out the windows.

I was very excited about the new program. I’ve decided to start the national campaign with the two-mile stretch of Laguna Canyon Road. I shared the news with my grandkids. To my surprise, they were against Catch-a-Litterbug and Adopt-A-Highway programs. I asked why. The grandkids said, “We’ve seen this story a million times before on Netflix. The adoptive kid gets the inheritance. Forget it, Pop-Pop. Charity starts at home. Don’t hit the road. We’re talking and throwing trash right here, all around the house.”

Crantz tells the Indy that he caved in to the grandkids just as fast as the cave-in on the Teton Pass Highway.

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