The Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) Program is a joint effort between the N.C. Department of Transportation and the community to decrease the amount of litter on North Carolina’s roadways.
Many types of groups participate in the AAH Program, including school, civic, business, religious, professional, and social groups. Individuals and families adopt some sections of highways.
Volunteers must be at least 12 years of age. Those between the ages of 12 and 17 must be supervised adequately by adults who are 21 years of age or older and submit a Youth Participation Release Form signed by a parent or guardian.
Start by reviewing the information on this website, including the Litter Management Map to identify sections of state-maintained roadways that are available to adopt. Interested volunteer groups should fill out the appropriate applications, fill out the AAH Program Agreement Form, and watch the AAH Program Safety Video.
The NCDOT reserves the right to deny an application to adopt a section of highway when the adoption may create a safety hazard for a NCDOT employee or the public, jeopardize the AAH Program or be counterproductive to its purpose.
Volunteer groups sign four-year agreements with the NCDOT to remove litter from adopted sections of roadsides a minimum of four times each year. Reporting is required after each cleanup whether bags are picked up by NCDOT or disposed of by volunteer groups. Some roads that are traveled more heavily may require additional pickups.
The adopting group may keep its adopted section of highway indefinitely if the agreement is renewed every four years and litter is collected at least four times each year or more often if necessary.
An agreement may be canceled upon 30 days written notice to NCDOT.
Before participating, AAH Volunteers must receive adequate safety training that can be viewed at our Safety Rules and Guidelines page here AAH Volunteers must view a safety video and review rules and guidelines created by NCDOT for AAH Program participants.
Under a special provision in the 1995 budget bill, the General Assembly gave the NCDOT authority to allow AAH groups permission to use contract services to clean their adopted sections of highway. Boy Scouts, high school clubs, temporary agencies, employment security commissions, welfare recipients, and parolees are great sources for hire. In some instances, it may even be tax deductible. Please check with your accountant.
NCDOT strongly encourages volunteers to recycle trash collected during cleanups. Blue bags are provided to help groups keep recyclables separate from trash picked up. Currently both aluminum cans and rigid plastic bottles are not allowed to be discarded in landfills and must be recycled (General Statute 130A-309.10 (subsections f through l)). After a pickup, volunteers should take all recyclable items to a recycling station. The group may use any money obtained from items recycled.
Submitting a pickup report is required and can be done using your cellular phone or computer via our online AAH Pickup Report:
- Click on AAH Submit Pickup Report button
- When reporting, you will need to know the:
a) Pickup Key for your AAH Volunteer contract,
b) Date of litter picked up,
c) Number of volunteer participants,
d) Length of time it took to complete the pickup, and
e) Quantity of recyclable bags and trash bags collected.
NCDOT posts two signs, one at each end of the adopted section, with a group's name to acknowledge the group that has taken responsibility for cleaning the road. The Federal Highway Administration allows only the name of an organization, business, individuals, or deceased persons on signs. You may also have a sign in Honor of or in Memory of loved one. Other wording, such as logos, slogans, messages, dates, telephone numbers, Internet addresses, etc., is prohibited by Federal Highway Administration guidelines.
Fund-raising activities are permitted within the NCDOT Highway Beautification Program. Many types of groups participate in these fund raisers, including school, civic, religious, professional and social groups. Individuals within the groups could gather monetary pledges per quarter mile of highway that is cleaned. For each quarter section that the participant picked up trash, his/her organization could collect the pledged money.
All funds collected from the trash pickup would be solely the property of the organization participating in the fund raiser. No portion of the profits would be claimed by the state. We hope these programs will help groups raise much needed funds while helping to keep North Carolina roadsides clean and green.
As one of the largest anti-litter programs in the nation, NC Adopt-A-
Highway keeps about 10,000 miles of state-maintained roadsides free of litter with the help of approximately 5,000 groups and 120,000 volunteers statewide. This effort helps save taxpayers approximately $4 million annually in litter cleanup costs.