Adopt a Highway Frequently Asked Questions
Who can participate in the Adopt a Highway Program?
Any group of three or more individuals may participate.
Is there a minimum age requirement for participants?
All participants must be at least 12 years old. Participants between the ages of 12 and 18 must be supervised by an adult 19 years or older.
What is the minimum time commitment to program?
Two years is the minimum time commitment.
What are the minimum requirements to get a sign and who pays for it?
Adoptees would have to volunteer four times a year on a minimum of 2 km stretch of highway.
The sign is made up of two sections: the top section of the sign is standardized with the ministry's Adopt a Highway logo, and is 60 cm by 90 cm (high). Beneath is a panel for the adoptees' name or logo, which measures 60 cm by 30 cm (high). The top section of the sign is paid for by the ministry; the bottom panel is paid for by the adopting organization.
What type of activities can be done?
Specific activities include litter pickup, invasive species spotting and reporting, and may also include weeding, landscaping and hand-pulling non-toxic invasive plants. If invasive species are spotted their location should be reported to the invasive species organization in the area.
If I want to landscape an interchange, who creates a plan?
As the sponsor of a landscape area, the organization can design landscape plans itself and have them approved by the ministry or the ministry can have designs created and implemented on behalf of the sponsor.
Who pays for the initial planting and subsequent maintenance of adopted landscapes?
The landscape sponsor pays for both the initial planting and the subsequent maintenance of the landscape. In some cases, the planting is already there and does not need to be replaced, so the adoptee would only be sponsoring maintenance.
What happens with full litter bags?
Prior to any activity, the group must notify the district office with dates and times of intended roadside activities. The office will make arrangements with the maintenance contractor to pick up bagged litter once the group is finished.
Do participants receive training before going on the highway?
All volunteers are required to review safety guidelines and watch the safety video prior to participating. Adoptees are given a safety checklist which should be reviewed each time, and by every volunteer, prior to conducting activities on the adopted section of highway.
If your volunteer group wishes to pull non-toxic invasive species you will need to contact your regional invasive species organization. A representative will arrange a short presentation on how to identify local priority invasive species, pull non-toxic weeds and report new infestations.
How is the adoption location determined?
A suitable location is determined through discussion between the adoptee and the ministry. Adoptees are encouraged to propose several options. Some locations are better suited to certain activities than others. The ministry's primary concern is to safely match locations and groups depending on their level of activity. Locations are determined on a case-by-case basis.
What roads or interchanges are available for adoption?
Locations that already have signage are not available. Most areas on provincially numbered routes are potentially available. Some locations may not be safe or may fall under municipal right-of-way, making them unavailable for this program. In unincorporated areas, where there is no municipal government, regular residential roads may also be available for adoption. Contact your local district office and ask if the area in question is available to adopt. You can also check online to see if a road you are interested in is available.
What is the minimum length of road that can be adopted?
Generally, the rule of thumb is 2 km as a minimum. This does not apply to landscapes.
What is the benefit to participating organizations?
Adoptees will benefit from making a difference to the aesthetic appearance of roadsides and communities; and preventing or reducing the spread of invasive species in B.C. Groups receive public recognition through signage provided by the ministry for their efforts. Intangible benefits include community goodwill and general pride from making a noticeable contribution. For more information, see 14 Reasons to Adopt a Highway in B.C.
What are some of the safety precautions?
Safety is the primary concern for the ministry to ensure a successful program for all involved. For that reason, the ministry provides safety vests and signage warning traffic of volunteers on the roadway. Minimum age requirements must be met. There is also an Adopt a Highway safety video and an invasive species spotting and reporting video (coming soon) which you should view prior to going out on the highway.
Why has the invasive species initiative been introduced into the Adopt a Highway Program?
There is a natural fit between the two initiatives: Invasive species grow along many of the highway right-of-ways in B.C. and that's where Adopt a Highway volunteers are active.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure works hard to prevent the spread of invasive species and regularly monitors and treats invasive species on provincial highway rights of way throughout the province. Having Adopt a Highway volunteers report new infestations will allow the ministry to respond quickly and more effectively to new invasive species sites. Treatments are more effective and less costly on newly established infestations as compared to treating larger infestations that can require many years of treatment for control.
Where do the invasive species come from?
Invasive species are non-native plants that are introduced into B.C. either accidentally (such as in contaminated hay) or on purpose (such as through the horticultural trade). New infestations can arise on roadsides from seeds or plant parts transported on vehicles or machinery, by improper dumping of yard waste, or through the application of contaminated materials (e.g. soil, seed or gravel).
Why do we want to get rid of invasive species?
Invasive species have been introduced into B.C. without the natural predators and pathogens that would otherwise keep their populations in check in their countries of origin. Without predators or pathogens, these plants are able to spread quickly and aggressively, and outcompete native and agricultural plants.
Once they begin to take over a site, invasive species have the potential to cause widespread negative economic, social, and environmental impacts.
What happens with full invasive species bags?
Pulling invasive plant species is optional. If a volunteer group decides to pull non-toxic invasive plants they are required to contact their regional invasive species organization for training. Once the training is complete the invasive species committee will provide special invasive plant bags. The group must also notify the district office, which will then coordinate with the ministry's road and bridge maintenance contractor to pick up the bagged invasive plants.
What will the invasive species training provide?
The invasive species training for Adopt a Highway volunteers will not only increase the number of trained eyes able to identify and report new invasive species infestations; but will also reduce the risk of volunteers coming into contact with toxic plants while picking up litter. The training will also provide information about the ministry's herbicide use, and teach volunteers how to know when, and where, herbicides have been used along a section of highway.
What do I do if I spot a toxic invasive plant?
In the unlikely event that you spot a toxic plant, tell the other members of your team to avoid making contact with the plant and stay out of that area. Leave any garbage that may be near the plant and contact the regional weed coordinator as soon as possible. You can also Report-a-Weed.