Adopt a Highway: “All the Way to the Border” welcomes volunteers for 45-mile cleanup along SR 286

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications

Clean upJanuary 2022 will mark the seventh anniversary of Melissa Owens’ annual celebration of sun, fun and litter. Owens has been a part of Adopt a Highway for more than 22 years and began collaborating with neighbors and the community for more involvement seven years ago. January 2021 was similar to previous years. Volunteer groups gathered for a morning huddle at the local Robles Ranch Civic Center in Three Points and then headed out to clean the entire 45 miles of State Route 286 from Three Points, all the way to the border at Sasabe.

“Adjustments were made earlier this year to meet social distancing concerns,” said Mary Currie, Adopt a Highway program manager for ADOT. “Instead of a one-day event held in January, participating groups went out to clean adopted segments on varying days chosen by the group. At month-end the trash bags collected were tallied for a final total. About 68 volunteers collected over 200 bags of trash along 36 miles.Overall, a remarkable accomplishment.”   

Kyle Thompson with Altar Valley Conservation AlliancePreparing for next year’s event Owen said, “It’ll be just like old times. We’ll meet at the Robles Ranch Civic Center in Three Points at 9:30 am on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. There’ll be hot beverages and snacks to keep you going. We’ll get our blue bags and don our safety vests and head out on the highway to spend a morning together doing what we all have been missing since last January - picking up trash along one of the most beautiful roads in the great southwest. And, we’ll all be competing for the regionally-famous and much-coveted Trashiest Piece of Trash Contest.”

State Route 286 passes through Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. “Plastics and glass shards pose a real danger to deer, pronghorn and other wildlife,'' explains Owen, who encourages volunteers to pack a lunch and plan to picnic on the refuge while watching for wintertime raptors and other grassland birds and mammals. Or drive a few miles east and dine in Arivaca where there’s always something going on.

Owen welcomes others to join the event by adopting vacant segments along SR 286. Volunteers may request a one-day permit to adopt two miles on Jan. 29, 2022 by sending a request to [email protected].