Litter along 800 North in Orem is being "airlifted," so to speak, by two service groups.

The Silver Wings and Arnold Air societies at Brigham Young University each adopted a two-mile section of 800 North as part of the Utah Department of Transportation's "Adopt-A-Highway" program.For the next two years, the two societies will pick up trash along the roadway from the mouth of Provo Canyon to Geneva Road at least three times each year. The Arnold Air and Silver Wings societies are campus service groups associated with the U.S. Air Force.

"A national goal for both groups is to be involved in protecting the environment and showing support for environmental issues," said Capt. Gary Hills, campus adviser for the Arnold Air Society, Bernard F. Fisher squadron.

Since adopting the stretch of highway in October, the two service groups have spent two weekends picking up trash. It took the groups 31/2 hours to pick up "years of accumulated junk" on their first litter detail.

"I bet we've picked up close to 50 bags of trash," said Daniel Arters, Arnold Air Society commander. "It looks fantastic. I really can see a difference in the street."

The Arnold Air and Silver Wings societies aren't the only Utah County groups demonstrating concern for the local environment; 21 groups are picking up litter along state roads in the valley, ranging from Boy Scout troops to church groups to local businesses.

For Sue Lowe, owner of Lowdown's cafe and bar in Orem, taking care of a two-mile section of Provo Canyon is a "family" affair: The Lowes and a group of their regular customers pick up garbage between Canyon Glen and Frazier Park.

"It's just something we felt like we could do as a small group," Lowe said. "It helps us keep a positive image in the community."

Groups who volunteer for the "Adopt-a-Highway" program agree to care for a two-mile section of highway for a two-year period and to pick up trash along the roadway at least three times each year.

"To get involved all you have to do is contact us," said Kevin Beckstrom, UDOT public information officer. "There are sections of roads all over the place . . . that nobody's even touched yet.

"We provided the safety vests and the bags for litter," Beckstrom said. UDOT also hauls the full bags of trash to the dump.

In exchange for their environmental activism, UDOT erects signs at each end of a group's section of road crediting them with caring for the roadway. Lisa Farnsworth, area protocol officer for the Silver Wings and Arnold Air societies, said the signs have increased visibility of the two groups and generated interest in them.

Beckstrom said 150 groups throughout the state are participating in the two-year-old "Adopt-a-Highway" program.

"It's not a cost savings program but it makes people more aware of the litter problem and what people can do to take care of it," Beckstrom said.

The program also "does a job we can't do since we don't have the manpower to take care of all those sections of highway," he said.

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(Additional story)

Join the fun

21 Utah County groups have adopted tow-mile sections of state highways for liter cleanup. And adopting group agrees to pick up trash as least three times a year for two years.