COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A Ku Klux Klan group says critics of its plan to collect litter along a stretch of state highway should either clean up or shut up.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Ohio Realm wrote to two newspapers and the state Department of Transportation, offering to drop its application for the state's Adopt-a-Highway program if other Union County groups take its place.

``Our only objective was to insure that the highways remain clean in the state of Ohio,'' the group wrote in its letter last week. ``If the public would rather that we do not participate in this program, then the public should rise to the occasion and volunteer to participate in the Adopt-a-Highway program.

``In the event that all adoptable roadways are taken, we will withdraw our application, and we will not apply in Union County again until such time that there is a vacancy.''

Angela Septer, who signed the letter, said Tuesday that copies were sent to the Marysville Journal Tribune and The Marion Star.

``We never intended to upset the public in any way,'' she said. ``We just wanted to be good neighbors.''

Adopt-a-Highway groups are responsible for picking up trash along a two-mile stretch of road marked by a sign identifying their support. The Klan group asked to join in October, saying 10 people would participate.

Department spokesman Pieter Wykoff said 38 of the 213 miles of eligible Union County highway have been adopted.

Wykoff said no decision has been made on the application, but one is expected within a week. Last month, the department received an informal opinion from the state attorney general's office saying it would be unconstitutional to bar the Klan.