BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota’s early snow melt means a rapid start to a messy job this time of year — picking up roadside trash.

“I have to imagine, most of it is from people chucking it out their windows,” said Justin Walch.

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With bags in hand, Walch and his crew worked a littered fence line along Highway 252 in Brooklyn Park on Monday. One can easily see that paper and plastic garbage scars the landscape this time of year.

“A lot of trash, lot of trash, it floats around,” Walch said. “If people would just keep it in their vehicles or dump it in trash cans we wouldn’t have this problem. But, you know, they’re careless people.”

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) blame the trashy roads on careless people and uncovered loads.

Over the average winter, motorists and sloppy haulers will toss between 550 and 827 tons of trash along the state’s ditches. The costs to clean up all that garbage is also sizable, running into the millions of dollars.

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Fortunately, volunteers with the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program will save taxpayers another $5 million statewide.

“So far this year, we’ve picked 1,992 bags of trash due to the light winter we’ve had,” said Dewayne Jones, MnDOT’s attractive roadsides superintendent. “And that’s just along Interstate 94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

If it seems that there’s more garbage this spring, it’s likely due to last winter’s lack of snow cover.

All of that plastic and paper is now blowing around, clinging to fences, bushes and grass.

Normally, heavy snowfall would compact the garbage on the ground, pushing it out of sight.

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“Just keep it in your car,” Jones said. “Pull up to a gas station where everyone has a trash can. Just put it in there and don’t throw it along the highways.”