Cleaning Up for Good in Montgomery County

Cleaning Up for Good in Montgomery County

Potomac’s Peggy Dennis adopts part of Falls Road for Common Cause


Local residents Peggy Dennis and Margaret Green pose by the newly installed Adopt a Road sign on Falls Road near the intersection of MacArthur Blvd. Dennis lobbied for the sign promoting Common Cause Maryland to bring awareness of the group's work. They are seen with some of the trash Dennis has collected along the road.

When Potomac resident Peggy Dennis goes for a walk, she also goes on a mission. She picks up trash and recyclables as she goes.

One day it occurred to her to extend her mission by publicizing her favorite political organization: Common Cause Maryland.

To that end she contacted Montgomery County Department of Transportation about the Adopt a Road program, a volunteer program to encourage citizens to take charge of clearing litter from roadsides.

The program posts signs naming the person, persons or organization cleaning up at the beginning and end of each clean up section.

“I don’t feel I need to have my name up there on the post, but I’m glad to do the work in the name of an organization I admire and respect. Anyone can do the same for their church, civic association, club or in the memory of someone they cared for,” Dennis said.

“Because there is little to no funding for litter pickup, we count on program participants to help keep our roads free of trash, protect the environment, enhance our quality of life and the appearance of our County,” the Adopt a Road website:, states. “Volunteers … provide a real service to the community, by removing unsightly litter from County roadsides before it reaches local streams or clogs storm drains that feed into the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers and, eventually, our water supply.”

It took a while for Dennis’ signs to be installed marking a .8-mile section of Falls Road from MacArthur Blvd. to Alloway Drive, but she collected 28 pounds of non-recyclable trash and 119 recyclables: glass and plastic bottles and aluminum cans while waiting for the day she and members of Common Cause Maryland could celebrate “their sign.”

“If you’re adopting a road that has had no TLC for a few years, you’ll find the initial cleanup takes several passes,” Dennis said. “There are plenty of bottles and cans peeking out from their half buried hiding places among the leaves and brush. But as you continue your monthly or bi-monthly rambles, you’ll find less and less to collect. Perhaps people are more conscientious about not littering when there is no visible litter to add to. Perhaps during the hot months people have their car windows rolled up and prefer to keep the AC on and the litter inside. Who knows? I only know that joining the Adopt-a-Road program and doing my trash walks make me feel good.”

As for Common Cause Maryland, Dennis said she has been a member for about 20 years, she can’t remember what issue brought her to the group. But she has strong views on some of the issues facing Maryland voters today.

“Because these times are perilous, and our democracy is threatened by forces seeking to restrict voting rights; place candidates in the presidency who have been elected by a minority of the voters; gerrymander districts to ensure ‘safe’ districts for their own party; and campaign using funding from undisclosed individuals and companies,” she said. “The For the People Act 2021 (HR-1) is now before our legislators on Capitol Hill. If it is passed, it will go a long way toward making our democracy more democratic rather than less. Common Cause Maryland is working hard to see that this bill passes and that the National Popular Election Compact is approved in enough states to insure that the majority of the voters will carry the day [in] future presidential elections and not the minority reflected in the Electoral College.”

One more thought from Dennis about cleaning local roadsides:

“Remember the old saying, ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled’? Well, Adopting-a-Road is a good walk made even better. Many of our roadsides cry out to be tidied up on occasion. And who better to do it than the folks that live there?”