Russian River Valley News

Russian River Valley News
Spring Cleaning Our Roads
By Vesta Copestakes
March 2024

Since I started volunteering with Carol Shumate, Russian Riverkeeper’s Clean Team leader, along their designated Adopt a Road section of River Road, I see trash everywhere I drive. I had already been in the habit of stopping to report dumped appliances and furniture to Sonoma County’s SoCoConnect on my cell phone, and picked up trash where I regularly walk, but once I joined Carol’s trash-picking team, I became acutely aware of how much trash litters our roadways.

Out here along the river, we live in unincorporated Sonoma County. Who maintains our home? Public Infrastructure (Pi), maintains a broad-spectrum of functions such as roads which are one of those services that are impacted by actions of people who live and visit here. Roadside trash is one of those preventable problems, but until all humanity doesn’t litter, it’s a fact of life.

Sonoma County’s Adopt-a-Road program (info below) gives individuals, businesses, and groups an opportunity to promote themselves through signage along the stretch of the road they adopt. The commitment to clean up is a mere two times a year. Once you’ve cleaned a section of road you know that is not frequently enough to keep the environment clean. The busier the road, the more litter. 

Look at the map on their website to see what roads have not been adopted. If you want to clean an already adopted section, contact the people who adopted that section of road. Maybe they’ll appreciate more volunteers! The program has a comprehensive manual, and supplies tools, etc. Hi-Vis outerwear is ESSENTIAL! YOU need to be SEEN! 

Back roads have an additional problem. People use them to dump their trash when they don’t want to pay dump fees. In some cases they dump things that are FREE to dispose of through County programs (info below)! Then it costs the county tax dollars to remove and dispose of items. During the rainy season those items become VERY heavy. If reported, they usually get picked up within a week. If not, they can spread, start to mold and rot, etc., which is why we have programs to get trash off roadsides as quickly as possible.

If you have a cell phone the easiest task you can do to help is to report roadside dumps. That couch or mattress you drive by, the filled black or white plastic trash bags dumped in a pile. As long as these items are NOT on private land, the County will collect them when reported. Don’t assume the County knows trash is there. This county has 1,383 miles of roads to maintain.

Download the SoCo Connect app on your phone (info below). It helps to set up an account if you report trash consistently. You’ll see the tools icon for Service Requests. If you have a location finder on your phone it will put a pin on the map where you are standing. Taking a photo helps them see it, then write a short description. Submit – and soon that pile is gone. 

Cleaning up our roadsides looks good, but it also keeps trash from ending up in waterways that lead to the Russian River and the sea. Trash also literally trashes the homes of every critter who lives near a road. It’s another negative human impact on our environment. Please consider becoming a litter picker-upper as part of Spring Cleaning!


Sonoma Public Infrastructure – Adopt a Road: The Community Roadside Clean Up Program encourages organizations, corporations, groups, and individuals to participate by providing volunteers to maintain and enhance Sonoma County’s roadsides.

SoCo Connect: SoCo Connect is an integrated management system for submitting service requests, monitoring progress and sending photos to the County of Sonoma.  (

Recology Sonoma Marin customers curbside bulky item collections for items that don’t fit in your cart, like old furniture, appliances, or mattresses.To schedule a pickup: Call 1.800.243.0291 or email INFO:

ZeroWaste Bulky Item Pickup Service: Bulky item pickup such as mattresses, appliances, furniture will be picked up by appointment for a fee or at no cost, or at free Curbside Cleanup Events.

This column has been reprinted with the permission of Neighbors of the Russian River Valley.*

* River Valley News column will be published in the March 2024 Neighbors of the Russian River Valley (Best Version Media), a monthly magazine distributed to neighbors in the Russian River Valley. Reprinted with permission. For more info, go to their Facebook page, here.

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