Paul Moua likes helping and working with the community so much that he, along with a group of like-minded individuals, regularly picks up trash on a section of highway in Yuba County.
Moua, 60, is a member of the Hmong Americans of Yuba-Sutter and one of their activities includes participating in the Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway Program.
“Whatever needs to be done to help the community, we are here to help,” Moua said. “We try to stay connected with the officials and leaders so that we can be involved and help out however possible.”
The group of about 25 people adopted a section of Highway 70 south of McGowan Parkway in Olivehurst about five years ago and take part in about a dozen clean up days each year starting in April.
“When we adopted the highway, I was assigned to organize the group and make sure people made it out there,” he said. “The Hmong veterans come out and help as do many high school students.”
Michael Geraghty, with Caltrans, oversees the Adopt-A-Highway for District 3 and said groups like the Hmong Americans of Yuba-Sutter are crucial to keeping the state highways tidy.
“They have been an outstanding group, take pride in their community and exhibit a strong sense of civic responsibility,” Geraghty said. “Paul (Moua) thinks that cleaning up and taking care of your community should be a focal point for all citizens.”
Statewide, crews picked up 137,254 cubic yards of litter along 66,539 shoulder miles of freeways and highways in 2017 and District 3 (which encompasses Glenn, Butte, Sierra, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Nevada, Placer, Yolo, Sacramento and El Dorado counties), and collected 7,418 cubic yards of litter last year, which spanned 13,314 shoulder miles, according to Caltrans.
“We have about 30 active adoption groups and there are about 80-100 people total who go out and help clean up their adopted section of the highway but we’re looking to get more groups on board and it can be a domino effect.” Geraghty said. “It’s been an exciting program and the people who help are great, morally and ethically.”
More than 12,000 volunteers participate in the program across California, saving taxpayers an estimated $16 million annually in litter removal costs, according to Caltrans.
“Not only do these individuals volunteer their free time, they also help promote civic duty and responsibility,” Geraghty said. “Recently, our adoption numbers have been increasing. This is great news, but we can always do better.”