Father, daughter adopt Highway 1 stretch in Malibu

Peter Ireland and his daughter Melissa are regularly seen picking up tossed or windblown litter and debris near their AAH sign just one-third of a mile south of Neptune’s Net and Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Since 2017, this dynamic father-daughter duo has helped by picking up litter from a stretch of PCH/State Route 1 North of Mulholland Highway near their home in Malibu as part of the Caltrans’ Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program.

“Keeping the highway and beaches clean are an extension of what we do as a local nonprofit, environmental organization,” Melissa Ireland said in a statement. “We believe keeping the area litter-free is important for the safety and enjoyment of residents and visitors to Malibu.”

Both father and daughter share that Nicholas Canyon specifically is designated by the state of California as an environmentally sensitive habitat area and home to a variety of wildlife, such as mountain lions, bobcats, deer, and red-tailed hawks. According to residents, visitors and folklore, Nicholas Canyon has healing and restorative powers and is considered “God’s little pocket.” The Irelands are considered the “Keepers of the Canyon.”

Peter Ireland (right) and his daughter Melissa (left) have been a part of the Caltrans’ Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program since 2017. This dynamic father-daughter duo help by picking up litter from a stretch of PCH/State Route 1 North of Mulholland Highway near their home in Malibu. Photo courtesy Clean California.

“Picking up litter is not a glamorous task, however we do it with passion and purpose,” Ireland said. “Keeping this stretch of highway clean also helps keep litter out of the ocean and protect marine life.” 

This incentive is made available through Governor Newsom’s $1.1 billion Clean California initiative to remove trash, create thousands of jobs, and engage communities to transform roadsides into places of public pride. 

The Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway program is an avenue for individuals, organizations, or businesses to help maintain sections of roadside within California’s State Highway System. Adopt-A-Highway and Clean California have teamed up to offer volunteer incentive stipends of up to $250 per month for litter cleanup events. The stipends include $250 for adopted highway segments and $250 for ramps and quads. 

Peter Ireland, also a former Malibu field deputy for the Board of Supervisors, shared that their participation with AAH affords them meaningful family time and the opportunity to help keep the highway and adjacent beaches litter-free.

“Preserving the natural beauty of this special place is something we care deeply about and participating in the AAH program is a way for us to do that in a tangible way,” Peter Ireland said.

The father and daughter preservationist team are also president and vice president, respectively, of Nature Trust of the Santa Monica Mountains, a nonprofit land trust (located at the Malibu Nature Preserve) dedicated to preserving and protecting environmentally significant areas within the Santa Monica Mountains. It was formed to protect and preserve the Nicholas Canyon watershed and provide nature-based education and outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. Overall, their mission is to protect the natural areas of the Santa Monica Mountains for habitat conservation, nature-based education, and outdoor recreation.

The AAH Program began in 1989 and remains one of the truly successful government-public partnerships of our time. More than 120,000 Californians have cleaned and enhanced over 15,000 shoulder-miles of roadside. The program helps keep state highways cleaner and more attractive and at the same time helps control the growing cost of litter removal and other types of maintenance. Adopters have the option to participate as volunteers or to hire a maintenance service provider to perform the work. 

To learn more about the Caltrans’ Adopt-A-Highway program visit, cleancalifornia.dot.ca.gov.

Peter Ireland (right) and his daughter Melissa (left) have been a part of the Caltrans’ Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program since 2017. This dynamic father-daughter duo help by picking up litter from a stretch of PCH/State Route 1 North of Mulholland Highway near their home in Malibu. Photo courtesy Clean California.

Clean California – Adopt-A-Highway Incentive Stipends Include:

  • $250: Adopted Highway Segments
  • $250: Ramps and Quadrants of an Interchange
  • $125: One on- and off-ramp
  • $62.50: One ramp
  • Up to $250 Supplemental permit, depends on size of clean-up event
  • Up to $250 Non-traditional adoptions such as Park and Rides and bike paths.

Participation can include one or more of the following activities:

  • Removing litter (work frequency varies with location)
  • Planting and establishing trees or wildflowers
  • Removing graffiti
  • Controlling vegetation

Adoptions usually span two-mile stretches of roadside and permits are issued for five-year periods. Adopters in good standing may renew their permits an unlimited number of times. 

FACTS ABOUT LITTER

Item Decomposition Time

  • Aluminum can 200-500 years
  • Tin Can 80-100 years
  • Rubber boot sole 50-80 years
  • Nylon fabric 30-40 years
  • Plastic bag 10-20 years
  • Cigarette butt 1-5 years

For additional information on the Clean California program, visit CleanCA.com.

For information on adopting a highway call AAH Coordinators Darryl Atkins (213) 793-7244 or Sheila Hopkins at (661) 775-1485.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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