Twice a year, KTWH has a team walk a 2 mile stretch of highway between Two Harbors and Duluth, Minnesota. During this year’s latest excursion, KTWH volunteer Peg (with her friend, Scott) scored a shiny wheel rim. In the above photo, Peg’s face relays a feeling of pure joy at her find. Even better, the two friends, along with the rest of the group amassed about 20 large yellow bags of trash on behalf of Two Harbors community radio. The station has been participating in the Adopt-a-Highway program since 2019.
We learned more about the project from station manager Leo Babeu, and lead organizer, former board member, and KTWH “variety volunteer,” Paul Hanson. The two men shared what it’s like to clean up a highway, and what other “treasures” they have found.
How did the idea come about to have KTWH adopt a stretch of highway?
Leo: The highway cleanup idea was actually the suggestion of my KTWH co-founder Fran Kaliher. Fran was aware that there were sections of our north shore of Minnesota (Lake Superior) state highway system near Two Harbors that were in need of adoption for cleanup by local organizations and businesses.
I recognized that our new LPFM was struggling to get the word out to residents and visitors to our rural county about local community radio on their FM radio dial. We were excited that the signage the highway department puts up in recognition of our ongoing cleanup commitment would credit our station, that there might be a win/win situation: the area would have clean roadsides kept tidy on a busy tourist route, reflecting well on our civic pride, and KTWH would get some meaningful exposure. We could also strengthen ties between volunteers doing something constructive and non-radio together.
How many people go out to do a clean up?
Paul: Between 4-15, depending on who is busy doing what.
How much trash do people gather during a cleanup?
Paul: I am guessing about 500-700 pounds worth.
What is it like to be on a hunt for trash on the side of a highway?
Paul: It’s a good physical workout, walking on slanted roadsides, up and down stream/river terrain. It can be scary when people whiss by at 65+ miles per hour on the four lane. It can be entertaining finding hub caps, door mats, coolers, other “treasures”.
Has anyone found anything surprising?
Paul: We found a door mat with an owl image on it, with an “I am watching you!” look to it.