MONTPELIER -- Gov. Peter Shumlin and other top state and private business officials on Tuesday urged Vermonters to get out and help rid the countryside of litter on the state's 44th annual Green Up Day on Saturday, May 3.

Since 1970, thousands of Vermonters have gotten outside on the first Saturday of May collecting tons of litter that would otherwise mar the state's scenic beauty. This year, officials hope the volunteers will help scour 13,100 miles of roads and collect 40,000 bags of trash.

"What Governor Deane Davis had in mind 44 years ago was a call of arms to all Vermonters to come out, help clean up our green spaces on our roadways to help keep Vermont beautiful," Shumlin said.

Earlier this year, there had been concerns that Green Up Vermont, the nonprofit group that sponsors the event that sees thousands of people collecting trash in green bags, might have to close because of financial worries.

But Green Mountain Power, the state's largest electrical utility, is helping to fill that financial gap and will become the main Green Up Day sponsor for the next three years. A number of other prominent companies are also helping out.

But speaking on the Statehouse steps with Shumlin, organization President Melinda Vieux said keeping people interested in greening up every spring is more challenging because there are so many other draws on peoples' time and the organization has not been growing.

So this year the organization is asking every Vermonter to revitalize and save what she calls an important statewide tradition.

"Let's build momentum now and look to make next year's anniversary, the 45th, the greatest anniversary yet," Vieux said.