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Survey finds declining litter on roadsides

Lincoln County is clean. Clean enough to eat off of.

According to the results of Keep Lincoln County Beautiful’s 2010litter survey, Lincoln County continues to fall in litter ratings,dropping down this year to an average rating of 1.25 on afour-point scale – the cleanest the county has been in the 10 yearsthe survey has been conducted. The new low rating moves the countyaway form the middle-of-the-road status of “slightly littered” andever-closer to the coveted “no litter” label.

While the occasional piece of rubbish can still be found on theroadsides, the nasty unauthorized dumps in creek beds and oncountry roads are disappearing, said KLCB member HomerRichardson.

“It’s getting better and better every year. It’s getting cleaner,”Richardson told county supervisors Monday. “There’s stillmiscellaneous stuff – a fast food container here and there – butwe’re getting almost no accumulation. We’re just not finding thestuff out there like we used to.”

The annual litter survey is conducted by examining the same 90secret locations in the city and all five county districts,comparing the amount of garbage found against previous results.This year, four of the six examination areas showed improvement,with only two spots more littered than in 2009.

The most improvement was seen in District One, which averaged alitter rating of 1.10 and showed an almost 19 percent improvementover 2009 totals. District Five made the second-greatest stridesover last year, tallying a 1.33 rating and showing an 11 percentimprovement.

The city of Brookhaven also got cleaner, with a litter rating of1.08 and almost 10 percent improvement over 2009. District Four -the cleanest district in the county or city – was rated at 1.10 andmoved slightly forward with a 4 percent improvement over lastyear’s already-clean totals.

Unfortunately, there are still a few litterbugs active in Districtstwo and three.

District Two went in the wrong direction, with a litter ratingincrease from last year’s 1.33 to 1.47 and accumulating almost 10percent more litter than was found in 2009. District Three’s litterrating stayed the same as it was in 2009 at 1.33, with the districtinching backward slightly at 0.25 percent more litter found thisyear.

Overall, it’s been a long, steady decline for Lincoln County sinceKLCB began the annual litter survey in 2000. While different beatssaw increases in litter accumulation in different years – DistrictThree almost attained a “littered” rating of 3 in 2002, for example- the overall outcome has been a consistent decrease intrash.

“We’ve had a couple of bumps in years we didn’t have peoplecleaning the roads, but we’re seeing steady improvement in the cityand all the county districts,” Richardson said.

The worst spots for litter accumulation continue to be the smallcut-through roads that traverse the more remote areas of thecounty, but once an illegal dump site is cleaned, it tends to staythat way, Richardson said. People only tend to dump rubbish whenrubbish has already been dumped and will generally leavecleanliness alone, he said.

One way Lincoln County has grown more clean spots – and perhaps thebiggest contributor to its declining litter numbers – is the GreatAmerican Cleanup. KLCB’s wildly popular spring cleaning programrotates massive garbage bins through the county for five weeks inthe spring, allowing citizens the chance to dispose of large,bulky, hard-to-remove items.

“It gives people an opportunity to throw away stuff they wouldordinarily keep in a closet or a barn somewhere, or on the side ofthe road, you know,” said Lincoln County Litter Control CoordinatorRonnie Durr. “The cleanups are just a necessity.”

Next year, KLCB will add to the Great American Cleanup with asingle-day event for hazardous waste disposal. Tentativelyscheduled for Saturday, April 2, the hazardous cleanup will allowfor the safe disposal of paint, oils, pesticides and otherpotentially dangerous materials – about the only items that aren’taccepted at the Great American Cleanup, which begins the followingweek.