Litterbugs being ticketed

MONROE, LA "I've stopped plenty of people, but I give them a choice," Barham said. "I tell them they can go back and pick up their litter plus a few more pieces and bring it back to me or they can get a ticket.

"So far 100 percent have picked up litter. It's like sentencing them to community service without the taxpayers having to foot the bill for court costs."

But Barham's LDWF agents have written plenty of litter citations.

The LDWF won the Keep Louisiana Beautiful award for writing more than 2,000 litter tickets last year -- the most of any law enforcement agency in the state, said Col. Winton Vidrine, chief law enforcement officer for the department.

And the agents aren't just writing them in the woods and on lakes and streams. Now they're tagging litterers on the highways.

"This department has always been the most aggressive agency in the state as far as litter," Barham said. "One of the things we want to do is attract people to the outdoors, and nothing spoils the outdoors experience faster than a trashy environment.

"I've instructed all of our agents to be very aggressive with litter. Each district sends me a report every month."

Barham and Vidrine said Louisianians have been lax on litter for too long.

"Nothing aggravates me more than our attitude toward litter," Vidrine said. "No state has more natural beauty than ours, but Louisiana sometimes looks like the garbage dump site of the nation."

"Our generation somehow developed a blind spot toward litter," Barham said.

That's why Barham said he will target the next generation to educate it about the importance of keeping Louisiana clean.

"We've moved the Office of Environmental Education from the governor's office to our department, and it's going to be our outreach into schools and civic organizations," Barham said. "We want this generation to know that we all have to be good stewards of the environment."

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