Caltrans Parolee Program recognized at Earth Day event
By Dana Simas, CDCR Public Information Officer
Litter is a big global problem, and a big financial burden on the state of California. Every year the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) spends millions of dollars and thousands of hours picking up litter from roadways and waterways. As part of the recent Earth Day celebrations, Caltrans held the Great American Cleanup/Annual Litter Day.
Also recognized at the event was the successful partnership of the Caltrans Parolee Program (CPP). The CPP has been a partnership between CDCR and Caltrans since 2009. There have been many success stories to come out of this program as it helps offenders establish a 90-day work record and show their work ethic.
Since 2009, there has been approximately 2,200 participants and nearly 900 of those participants found full-time employment within the 90 days they were employed by Caltrans.
One of those successful participants attended the event and was recognized by all involved for his hard work and dedication to turning his life around.
Rudy Contreras enrolled in the CPP in the Fresno County area in 2013. His work ethic and persistence earned him a permanent position with Caltrans in 2014.
The CPP operates in Sacramento, Fresno, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Alameda, San Joaquin and San Diego counties. CDCR and Caltrans plan to expand the program to more counties in the near future.
While this year’s totals are not yet finalized, last year’s event collected 3,100 cubic yards of litter in one day, which would fill almost 200 garbage trucks. That one day of litter removal was the largest single litter-day pickup event in the nation.
“Last year, Caltrans spent $63 million picking up litter around California, that’s 193,000 cubic yards which is about 12,000 garbage trucks,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “We’d much rather spend that money fixing potholes or making our roads safer, if the public helps us not litter we can save some of those dollars and use them for higher priority items.”
Dougherty said the public can do a tremendous part in reducing litter on highways by tying down loads in or on their vehicles, not putting trash in the back of their truck beds, and not throwing litter out of the window.
Dougherty also mentioned the single biggest piece of litter found across America is cigarette butts.
“One-hundred-seventy-six million pounds of cigarette butts are distributed along the highways across the nation. They do not degrade and just sort of stick around. We need people to be conscious of their actions,” Dougherty said.
Caltrans partnered with Keep California Beautiful, and the American Chemistry Council to acknowledge K-12 students who participated in the K-12 Recycling Challenge. Across California, 29 schools participated in the K-12 challenge which seeks to encourage schools to recycle as much waste as possible in one month. In all, 65,375 people participated and accumulated 439,000 pounds of material that was diverted from landfills through the concerted effort.
Some students also participated in Creek Week and displayed art made out of litter that had been picked up from the creeks in the Sacramento area.
There were also a number of displays showing how Caltrans continues to create innovative ways to encourage people to recycle and reduce their waste.