Adopt-A-Highway program

What does an Adopt-A-Highway group do? | Who can Adopt-A-Highway? | What does the Department provide? | How can you apply?

Adopt A Highway​​

In light of COVID-19, Adopt-a-Highway volunteers are encouraged to take precautions in planning for spring and summer 2021 cleanups. Please continue to refer to the latest guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health and discuss questions with your regional coordinator.

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​​​​Help keep Wisconsin's roadsides beautiful!​​

WisDOT's Adopt-A-Highway program is the official coordination system for generous volunteer efforts that remove trash, recyclables and litter from roughly 11,800 miles of state, federal and interstate highways.

WisDOT does not manage volunteer cleanup work on local and county roads. Interested parties are encouraged to contact the local and county governments for more information.

Below is an interactive map of adoptable road ​segments WisDOT manages. Please review the map to find an adoptable segment.

Adopt-A-Highway helps:

  • Reduce litter along Wisconsin's highways
  • Build statewide support for the anti-litter and highway beautification programs
  • Educate the traveling public to properly dispose of litter
  • Enhance the environment and beautify Wisconsin's roadsides

What does an Adopt-A-Highway group do?

  • Each qualified group takes responsibility for litter control on approximately a two mile segment of state highway.
  • The group picks up litter on this segment at least three times per year between April 1 and November 1.
  • The Adopt-A-Highway program emphasizes safety. ​It is important to be very careful when working on the roadsides. For more information, view the Adopt-A-Highway Safety page.
  • Groups do not work in dangerous areas like medians, bridges, or steep slopes.
  • Work is permitted until the group notifies the department of their intent to abandon their segment.

Who can Adopt-A-Highway?

  • Any group organized for some special purpose or task can be a sponsor, except partisan or political groups.
  • Each group must provide one adult supervisor for every five or six volunteers. 
  • All volunteers must be at least 11 years of age or in the 6th grade. No other persons should be on the work site.
  • Volunteers working adjacent to 4-lane expressways, freeways, or interstates must be at least 16 years of age.

What does the WisDOT provide?

  • The department furnishes safety vests, portable "people working" signs, the safety training video, trash bags, trash bag pick-up and disposal, and two acknowledgment signs marking your highway.
  • The department will install the sign announcing your group's litter control sponsorship.
  • Names must fit within the maximum of three lines. You will find specific information on the application form.
  • The WisDOT reserves the right to work with the sponsors in revising group names or acronyms that may be offensive to the public.
  • No fees will be charged to groups accepted into the Adopt-a-Highway program.

How can you apply?

  • Groups interested in adopting a highway need to identify a segment of road they would like to adopt on the interactive map above.
  • Contact the Adopt-A-Highway Regional Coordinator for your region once you identify a segment you would like to adopt. Your region is based on the county you are located in.
  • ​Once your roadway segment is confirmed, fill out an application form and send it to the Adopt-A-Highway Regional Coordinator.
  • Adopt-A-Highway segments are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. 
  • Your group may be placed on a waiting list if all available highway segments are already reserved or if the amount of applications received exceeds available funding for signs and supplies.
  • Once your application is signed and approved by the Department this becomes your permit to work on the right of way and your assigned segment in the Adopt-A-Highway litter control program.
  • After all group participants have reviewed the safety training video Adopt-A-Highway Safety Tips video and acquired the proper safety gear, vest and "people working" signs, you may begin cleaning your assigned segment.
  • Approved permits are effective indefinitely or until the department receives a "Notice of Abandonment" from your group. This notice tells the department your group has decided to cease its clean up activities. That segment will then be made available to others wishing to Adopt-A-Highway.​