Regional beautification group begins litter survey

Saturday, July 26, 2008
These photos provided by Keep Southeast Missouri Beautiful show an area rated one, "slightly littered" (top) and four, "extremely littered" (above).

Five volunteers from the regional beautification group, Keep Southeast Missouri Beautiful, completed the first round of their routine litter survey Friday. The survey, which focused only on roads in the rural Cape Girardeau County area, was last conducted in 2006.

The volunteers said they were impressed with the area's low level of litter.

"It's a big improvement" from two years ago, said David Ludwig, president for Keep Southeast Missouri Beautiful and a scorer for the survey.

The volunteers used a four-point scoring system. A score of one meant "no litter;" two, "slightly littered;" three, "littered;" and four "extremely littered." The overall average score for the county was 1.32. In 2006, the overall average score was 1.88.

The volunteers said they believed the roads in the worst condition were Route K between Wal-Mart and Highway 25 and Highway 177 between Fruitland and Procter & Gamble.

The volunteers said they believed a heightened awareness in the community about how to avoid littering was probably why the litter situation had improved. Tim Arbeiter, staff liaison for the group, said the organization has tried to educate the community in the last few years about litter flying out of the back of open pickup trucks.

The group has litter surveys to complete in three other areas — Scott City, Cape Girardeau and Jackson — before the full survey is complete. Arbeiter, who organized Friday's survey, said he hoped to complete another survey with some of the same volunteers Aug. 1. He said anyone can volunteer to help with the survey.

The group must complete the full survey by March to renew its affiliation with the national group Keep America Beautiful. But Rhett Hendrickson, the volunteer driver for the group Friday, said the organization should complete the remaining surveys soon so as to collect the data from the same time of year. Hendrickson said litter tends to be worse in the winter than in the summer because of higher winds in the winter. The completion of a survey at a different time of year would call into question the validity of the data collected.

tthomas@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 197

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