March 14, 2012


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While the first day of Spring is less than a week away, it is definitely time for people of McKenzie County to start giving serious thought about doing some Spring cleaning.
And the first order of business for a concentrated Spring cleaning effort needs to involve the road ditches around the county. To say that the road ditches around the county are an unsightly mess would have to be an understatement. And the task of cleaning them is going to be a monumental task.
In the past, there has always been the usual groups of youth, such as the Boy Scouts, the 4-H Junior Leaders, assorted school groups and community service clubs that have taken an evening or two to patrol the ditches in the area to clean up the trash that has accumulated over the winter.
While the volume of trash that is in the ditches this spring no doubt has most groups questioning whether or not they want to even attempt the task of removing the garbage, another issue that is also causing most of these groups some misgivings is the high volume of traffic, in particular truck traffic, that is moving up and down these roads today. And safety is a big issue when you realize that these volunteers are dragging bags of garbage to the edge of the road as trucks are whizzing by them.
So other than to leave the garbage lying in the ditches to be covered by green grass and continue to pile up, the question that needs to be answered is, “who is going to step forward and help clean up the road ditches.”
The obvious answer is simple; the cleanup effort has to be everyone’s job.
Everyone who now calls McKenzie County home, be it the longtime resident, the pipeline worker, the truck driver, or the oilfield executive, has a responsibility to help keep this part of the country clean and free of unsightly litter.
The garbage didn’t collect over a day or two so it isn’t going to be cleaned up in a day or two. It is well beyond a Boy Scout or church group project now. But if every oilfield company in McKenzie County would adopt a section of highway and keep that mile or two of ditch picked up once or twice a year, can you imagine what a difference it would make? And when those company efforts are joined by other volunteer community groups, the huge task could be pared down to something that is manageable.
It doesn’t matter when the cleanup begins, it just needs to get done. The Boy Scouts can challenge the Girl Scouts to clean a mile stretch of highway, the Rotary Club can challenge the Lions, 4-H clubs can challenge each other, and one oil company can challenge another.
Cleaning road ditches is kind of a contagious thing. It just takes one group to get started and let the others join in.