BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County has 1,200 miles of paved highways and 380 miles of unpaved roads.
And many of those roads are strewn with cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, soda cans and other litter. Residents have appealed to county commissioners to step up litter enforcement efforts because they believe Hernando County is in danger of losing its appeal to tourists and their dollars.
Recognizing that, county commissioners Tuesday will discuss changes to the Adopt-A-Road program, a nationally recognized volunteer campaign. Hernando County was the second county in the state to establish that program when it was created in 1989.
The Division of Transportation Services/Department of Public Works oversees the maintenance and operation of the public roads in Hernando County. That includes litter and debris pick-up within rights of ways.
In 2012, the division completed 210 litter pick-up service requests. During the first six months of 2013, the department has done 126 service requests.
"Not only is litter along the roadways unsightly and unappealing, it affects our watersheds and promotes unhealthy pollution," according to a staff report.
Stormwater runoff occurs after a rainfall and can collect many different types of pollution before it reaches a body of water, including debris, dirt, and chemicals.
The stormwater collects these materials and flows directly into bodies of water like a stream or lake. Debris such as plastic bags, bottles and cigarette butts can wash into a water body and interfere with aquatic life.
During its peak, the Adopt-A-Road program had 78 active groups.
However, the current number of active participating groups is closer to 20.
County staffers believe the downturn is a result of a combination of factors that include the economic slowdown and resulting lack of funding due to the economic crisis during the past several years.
County Administrator Len Sossamon said Friday it seems the county goes through phases where roads will look nice and then the litter increases.
"It is unhealthy," Sossamon said.
Throwing out a half-eaten hamburger attracts vermin, he said.
"I think it's important if we can get people to step up to the plate," he said.
County commissioners will discuss litter and the Adopt-A-Road program at their meeting which begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St. in downtown Brooksville.
County commissioners will discuss Sossamon's proposed long-term strategic plan for Hernando County.
Sossamon lists 14 goals that focus on economic development, social programs, natural resources, infrastructure improvements and other areas.
To view the entire agenda, visit http://hernandocounty fl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail _Meeting.aspx?ID=1383