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Creating and maintaining a clean and beautiful city through Green Team’s Adopt-a-Spot

Published on January 25, 2024

How can you make Huntsville a better and more beautiful place? All you need is a willing spirit, a little time and the City’s Green Team will guide you from there.

You’ve heard of the Adopt-a-Mile program, an organized effort by volunteers to pick up litter in designated areas that are typically about a mile in length. The Green Team, however, is broadening the program in Huntsville as Adopt-a-Spot to help volunteers identify areas that might be a little smaller to keep clean.

“Spots could be in a park or a greenway as well as along the road,” said Niki Sothers, the City’s manager for Landscape Management. “It could also be a creek or stream, areas often overlooked in cleanup efforts.”

Whether it’s a club, business, organization or a group of individuals who want to help, the Adopt-a-Spot program allows more flexibility to put civic pride into action. Maybe working along a roadway is a little daunting or maybe a mile seems too big of an area to tackle or maybe you just have a spot in mind that you want to care for. Green Team wants to help you help the community.

Parks are good spots because while those receive regular clean-up attention, “it never hurts to have additional hands in a park,” Sothers said.


The process begins by filling out an online application. That will lead to a conversation with a member of the Green Team to help tailor a spot to adopt.

“We have regular groups consistently reaching out interested in a spot,” Sothers said. “It might be church groups or ladies groups who want to get together to do something positive.”

The North Alabama Zoological Society is an example of a group wanting to keep Huntsville beautiful. They adopted a spot through Green Team last year at the Creekwood Park entrance of the Indian Creek Greenway. Weather permitting, they typically meet on the third Saturday each month for a cleanup at the playground and table area as well as walking 20 minutes in both directions along the greenway.

man wearing a yellow safety vest standing in front of an adopt a spot sign
The North Alabama Zoological Society adopted a portion of the Indian Creek Greenway

According to Hannah Roberts of the NALZS, the group has had about 20 volunteers at its cleanup days and hope to grow that number.

The benefits go beyond the aesthetic benefits of removing unsightly litter from a public space, Roberts said.

“I think it’s important for organizations like ours to be involved in programs like this to help keep our environment clean for future generations to enjoy,” she said. “Our spot in particular is also important because it is right on Indian Creek, which is a tributary to (the Tennessee River). The creek is home to many amphibians, which are indicator species of how our environment is doing. When their environment is full of pollutants, they can no longer thrive.”

While NALZS is new to the Adopt-a-Spot program, the Spring City Cycling Club has been working since 2000 to keep up the area along Cecil Ashburn Drive and the Blevins Gap Land Trust parking lot. Marjorie Holderer of the cycling club said the group has adopted a half mile on each side of the parking lot.

“Giving back to the community is important. The beauty of your environment indicates whether you’re a bunch of trashy folks or not,” Holderer said with a laugh. “Don’t be trash. Pick it up.”

Holderer said the group has members who pledge to participate in a certain number of cleanup sessions in a year. The club conducts cleanups every other month – six times a year altogether.

And, yes, it makes an impact. Holderer said the cycling club will pick up from six to 12 bags of garbage on each cleanup day.

“The beauty makes a difference,” Holderer said. “It causes you to have ownership and be less of a spectator in your own home and your own community.”

And Green Team wants to make it as easy as possible. The will provide all the tools needed for a cleanup: safety vests, gloves, pick-up sticks and garbage bags. Arrangements can be made to collect the bags of garbage that are picked up.

For more ambitious groups, the Green Team also has Adopt-a-Stream spots available to remove litter from waterways.

Typically, Adopt-a-Spot programs call for six cleanups a year – once every other month.

“But if you have a group, those cleanups can be spread among the individuals and cleanups can occur more frequently,” Sothers said.

And with that willing spirit and a little time, the beauty of Huntsville can become still even more beautiful.