(1)(a) The department of transportation shall establish a statewide adopt-a-highway program. The purpose of the program is to provide volunteers and businesses an opportunity to contribute to a cleaner environment, enhanced roadsides, and protection of wildlife habitats. Participating volunteers and businesses shall adopt department-designated sections of state highways, rest areas, park and ride lots, intermodal facilities, and any other facilities the department deems appropriate, in accordance with rules adopted by the department. The department may elect to coordinate a consortium of participants for adopt-a-highway projects.
(b) The adopt-a-highway program shall include, at a minimum, litter control for the adopted section, and may include additional responsibilities such as planting and maintaining vegetation, controlling weeds, graffiti removal, and any other roadside improvement or clean-up activities the department deems appropriate. Whenever possible, when planting and maintaining vegetation, volunteers and businesses should use native forage plants that are pollen-rich or nectar-rich and beneficial for all pollinators, including honey bees, in order to develop habitat beneficial for the feeding, nesting, and reproduction of pollinators. The department shall not accept adopt-a-highway proposals that would have the effect of terminating classified employees or classified employee positions.
(2) A volunteer group or business choosing to participate in the adopt-a-highway program must submit a proposal to the department. The department shall review the proposal for consistency with departmental policy and rules. The department may accept, reject, or modify an applicant's proposal.
(3) The department shall seek partnerships with volunteer groups and businesses to facilitate the goals of this section. The department may solicit funding for the adopt-a-highway program that allows private entities to undertake all or a portion of financing for the initiatives. The department shall develop guidelines regarding the cash, labor, and in-kind contributions to be performed by the participants.
(4) An organization whose name: (a) Endorses or opposes a particular candidate for public office, (b) advocates a position on a specific political issue, initiative, referendum, or piece of legislation, or (c) includes a reference to a political party shall not be eligible to participate in the adopt-a-highway program.
(5) In administering the adopt-a-highway program, the department shall:
(a) Provide a standardized application form, registration form, and contractual agreement for all participating groups. The forms shall notify the prospective participants of the risks and responsibilities to be assumed by the department and the participants;
(b) Require all participants to be at least fifteen years of age;
(c) Require parental consent for all minors;
(d) Require at least one adult supervisor for every eight minors;
(e) Require one designated leader for each participating organization, unless the department chooses to coordinate a consortium of participants;
(f) Assign each participating organization a section or sections of state highway, or other state-owned transportation facilities, for a specified period of time;
(g) Recognize the efforts of a participating organization by erecting and maintaining signs with the organization's name on both ends of the organization's section of highway;
(h) Provide appropriate safety equipment. Safety equipment issued to participating groups must be returned to the department upon termination of the applicable adopt-a-highway agreement;
(i) Provide safety training for all participants;
(j) Pay any and all premiums or assessments required under RCW 51.12.035
to secure medical aid benefits under chapter 51.36
RCW for all volunteers participating in the program;
(k) Require participating businesses to pay all employer premiums or assessments required to secure medical aid benefits under chapter 51.36
RCW for all employees or agents participating in the program;
(l) Maintain records of all injuries and accidents that occur;
(m) Adopt rules that establish a process to resolve any question of an organization's eligibility to participate in the adopt-a-highway program;
(n) Obtain permission from property owners who lease right-of-way before allowing an organization to adopt a section of highway on such leased property; and
(o) Establish procedures and guidelines for the adopt-a-highway program.
(6) Nothing in this section affects the rights or activities of, or agreements with, adjacent landowners, including the use of rights-of-way and crossings, nor impairs these rights and uses by the placement of signs.