Who's Who in Litter Pickup

Did you ever wonder who picks up litter on our highways, roads, parks, and other public areas? Many people assume that only prisoners pick up litter. Actually, many different types of crews pick up litter and clean up illegal dump sites around the state. The following are a few programs that receive funding through the Department of Ecology. Ecology Youth Corps
Lead Agency: Department of Ecology

The Ecology Youth Corps (EYC) is Washington State's largest youth employment program. Every year thousands of teens apply from across the state, and about 250 teens are hired. These youth provide an important service to their community while earning the state's minimum wage. They gain valuable job skills, teamwork experience, safety awareness, and an environmental education. EYC crews have been picking up litter since 1976, collecting over 1 million pounds per year. They are not juvenile delinquents!

back to top

Lead Agency: Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

The Adopt-a-Highway program is an anti-litter roadside enhancement campaign intended to build pride in our beautiful state. It allows organized groups of citizens or businesses to work in partnership with WSDOT by "adopting" a section of state highway and agreeing to help take care of it. This program offers organizations a way to contribute to their community and generate publicity for their efforts.

Volunteer groups may be clubs, employees of a business, or a group of concerned citizens. The participating groups or sponsor agrees to help take care of an "adopted" section of highway for at least 2 years. Typically the assigned sections include between two and four miles of roadside. Safety of the cleanup crews is a high priority.

WSDOT will erect a sign or signs identifying the adopting group. For volunteer groups, WSDOT provides the necessary traffic control equipment, safety equipment, safety training, litterbags, and disposal of filled bags.

back to top

Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

In addition to administering the Adopt-a-Highway Program, WSDOT has primary responsibility for picking up litter along state roads. WSDOT personnel pick up litter themselves. They also pick up the bags of litter collected by any group working on state roadways, primarily the Ecology Youth Corps, Department of Corrections, Adopt-a-Highway groups, and some Community Litter Cleanup Program crews.

back to top

Community Litter Cleanup Program
Lead Agency: Department of Ecology

The Community Litter Cleanup Program (CLCP) began in 1998. Through the CLCP, Ecology provides funding to local governments for litter pickup, illegal dump cleanup, and litter prevention and education. County agencies responsible for local comprehensive solid waste plans can apply for these funds. Currently, this includes all 39 Washington counties. Other local governments may receive funding, but may not directly apply for it.

The CLCP funds a wide variety of crews including youth and adult volunteer crews, juvenile rehabilitation crews, and state and local correctional crews made up of offenders doing either community service or jail time.

back to top

Community Service and Work Crews
Lead Agency: Department of Corrections (Corrections)

The community service program has been in place and working at full capacity since 1987. Instead of offenders idly sitting in jail, offenders can be out working in their communities. This program lets citizens see that offenders are being held accountable and are paying back the community. The offender benefits by avoiding time in jail, establishing a work ethic, and learning work habits. Diverting tax dollars from jail costs benefits the public, and providing free or low-cost labor benefits the work site.

Ecology has an agreement with Corrections to deploy work crews at key areas around the state. In addition, many crews participate in the CLCP as described above. Corrections carefully screens crew members before they may take part, and correctional officers supervise the crews.
back to top

Correctional Camps Program
Lead Agency: Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

The Correctional Camps Program is a partnership between the Department of Corrections, Department of Social and Health Services, and DNR. The program provides training and practical work experience for adult inmates and juvenile offenders. Through the program, DNR provides a supervised, trained, and equipped labor force for emergency response, stewardship activities on public lands, and special projects for local communities. Ecology has an agreement with DNR to deploy crews from facilities around the state. The crews focus on removal of illegally dumped materials from state-owned forests, as well as other forest maintenance tasks.

back to top

Volunteer Program
Lead Agency: State Parks and Recreation Commission

Ecology no longer has an agreement with State Parks & Recreation Commission (Parks). Beginning July 1, 2013 and continuing until June 30, 2015, Parks receives $10 million in litter funds directly due to action by the Washington Legislature. This is roughly half of all litter account funds.

The reports below highlight some gains in recycling and litter reduction in parks around the state with Ecology funding from 2003 to 2009.

Fort Flagler Case Study
Washington State Parks Case Study Report 2003
Washington State Parks - Litter & Sustainability Report for the '03-'05 Biennium
Washington State Parks - Litter & Sustainability Report for the '05-'07 Biennium
Washington State Parks - Litter & Sustainability Report for the '07-'09 Biennium

back to top