Clean Highways Mean Clean Waterways in the Ozarks

By Brett Martin |

Published 04/30 2014 06:08AM

Updated 04/30 2014 06:59AM

JAMESTOWN, Mo. – The Adopt-a-Highway Program has been a part of the Missouri Department of Transportation for more than 25 years.

Thousands of miles across the state are adopted every year, but one Ozarks non-profit group says clean roads help with their bigger mission.

No matter how many cars drive up and down a highway, trash can land on the side of the road.

"People don't think before they toss something or when they put it on the landscape, when the river floods it comes up and picks it up."

Joe Pitts is the Executive Director for the James River Basin Partnership.

the non-profit adopted a stretch of Highway M near the James River in Stone County.

"We've been doing this stretch of highway for about 8 years."

He says normally they focus on trash in the river but keeping it off the pavement is the start.

"Taking the trash out of the ditches and things like that is protecting the river because all of these ditches here run directly into the Finley or James and from there down to Table Rock lake."

Pitts says they can find anything in the bottom of the river.

"We usually get about a ton of metal in the form of fence gates, pieces of cars, old twisted fencing segments and stuff like that."

"The question you have to ask is if all this trash is in here, what else is in there too."

He says when trash lands in the river, it does more than just hurt the beauty of the Ozarks.

"Sometimes that trash contains chemicals in them or other kinds of materials that are not necessarily good for water quality."

That’s why his organization encourages people to pick up whenever they can.

"From a recreation and economic point of a view, a river that doesn't have a lining of trash or a river that is trashed out."

The James River Basin Partnership will host a number of events starting in June. To find the full list visit their website at

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