It has been extremely gratifying to see Montgomery Country residents, businesses and civic groups participate in the "Adopt a Highway" program. I have noticed a distinct improvement in the cleanliness of our adopted roads and think the participants should be commended.

It should be pointed out, however, that although there are committed people who give their time to take care of these roads, the problem of people desecrating public space with their trash and debris continues unabated. I am totally perplexed by the attitude people apparently have about public spaces in the first place. It appears to me that the word "public" seems to give people an excuse to abuse property. Private property still seems to be respected, but public property, which belongs to everyone, seems to always get dumped on.

For example, my community has a "pooper scooper" ordinance. But day after day, I see people who live in my community walk their dogs to the adjacent playground, where they take no responsibility for their dogs' actions.

Maybe this pervasive disdain for public space is a reflection of society's attitude toward government, which ultimately has to do something about the problem. But can't people see that they ultimately have to pay for their actions through higher taxes? Whether through education or media attention, it is time that respect for public space becomes a more important tenet of our society. BILL SPENCER Chevy Chase