For the past year a group of neighbors have worked to clean up a stretch of North Silverbell Road between West Goret Road and West Sweetwater Drive.

On Saturday, the group known as Community Actively Cleaning Trash Upon Silverbell, or C.A.C.T.U.S. Club, was recognized by Tucson Clean and Beautiful for its efforts to make the community a better place.

"The area is definitely looking much better than it ever has," said B.J. Cordova, director of programs with the nonprofit environmental organization.

The members of C.A.C.T.U.S. Club have worked together for about three years, said organizer Theresa Russell, but it wasn't until spring 2009 when they decided to create a formal group to sign up for the Adopt-a-Street program.

"It was just bottles and trash, it was a mess," said Russell, who thought other neighbors would be willing to help.

She started putting fliers near neighbors' mailboxes and eventually got responses from about 12 people.

"The first time we cleaned up we had like 50 bags of trash," she said. "It took us like four hours."

The group cleans up litter within 35 feet of the roadway and reports maintenance needs in the area.

Cordova estimated the group has collected around 300 bags of trash over the past year. On average, a volunteer picks up about one bag of trash per hour, he said.

"It's a significant amount. We are glad these volunteers have chosen to step up and help keep the area clean," he said.

Over the past year Tucson-area volunteers provided 13,000 hours of work everywhere from neighborhood parks to washes, Cordova said. Silverbell Road is one of the 175 sites that have been adopted.

It looks like the group's efforts are paying off. It now takes only about 90 minutes to clean up the area, Russell said.

"It's dropped dramatically ... because people see us out here cleaning so they know that it's not nice to throw trash."

How to help

To volunteer with the Tucson Clean and Beautiful Adopt-a- Street program, call 791-3109 or go to www.tucsoncleanandbeautiful.org

Contact reporter Mariana Alvarado at 573-4597 or malvarado@azstarnet.com