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      Tossing that plastic cup on the ground could cost you

      Worn-out tires, paper cups and plastic bags. It's just some of the garbage you will find off to the side or in the middle of US-41.

      The Michigan Department of Transportation's Adopt-A-Highway program consists of groups of people who volunteer to get their hands on other people's trash.

      "In the U.P., it is extremely important--it is keeping our highways beautiful," said Marion Johnson, a coordinator of the Adopt-A-Highway program in the U.P. "A lot of these groups take pride in their area they've adopted. They like to see it get cleaned up; they're very diligent getting out there."

      In the U.P., the Adopt-A-Highway organization is responsible for cleaning up to 1,200 miles of state-owned routes, which translates into saved money for the state.

      "The volunteers, by picking up trash, have saved the state $1.5 million in litter pickup costs the state would have to cover," Johnson said.

      In the course of a year, the volunteers will pick up 8,000 bags of trash, equaling out to 100,000 pounds of trash just on the side of the road.

      Littering used to be considered a misdemeanor and has since been reduced to a civil infraction, but while jail time has been taken off the table, heavier fines and punishments have taken affect.

      "Anything from a cigarette butt up to one cubic foot, you could be responsible up to an $800 fine, and it goes up from there based on volume," said Sgt. Kevin Dowling of the Michigan State Police.

      The citations include a $1,500 fine for anything from one to three cubic feet, a $2,500 fine for garbage over three cubic feet, like a mattress, and a $5,000 fine for a second offense.

      On the TV6 Facebook page, Lisa Sutinen pointed how cheaper it is to follow the law. "It's relatively inexpensive to bring it to a transfer station compared to the cost if you get caught throwing it in the bushes," wrote Sutinen.

      Michigan's Department of Natural Resources also has a program of their own called Adopt-a-Forest aimed at cleaning up public forest land.