LANSING-Michigan's Adopt-a-Highway program celebrated the end of its 12th successful season in September 2000. This program is perhaps the ultimate public-private partnership in Michigan. Every year since 1988, groups of Michigan citizens have "adopted" one- to two-mile stretches of Michigan highways. What is required to adopt a stretch of highway? Only the promise that, three times yearly, the adopting group walk its stretch of highway picking up litter.

In 2001, 3,000 groups participated in the program, collecting 90,000 bags of trash from Michigan roadways. More than 1 million bags of trash were collected in the first 10 years of the program-all of which was done without financial remuneration to the groups involved.

Bob Parsons, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation reports that the level of service from this public-private partnership "far exceeds what the state could provide" on its own. After all, paying state or county workers to clean the same territory would be dramatically more expensive than partnering Michigan citizens who care enough about the environment to improve it without compensation. Editor's Note: For more information on the Adopt-A-Highway program, visit MDOT's Web site at www.mdot.state.mi.us/programs/adopt.