Yellowstone National Park and Concessioner Employees, Montana and Wyoming Departments of Environmental Quality, and Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, Environmental Stewardship at Yellowstone National Park and the greater Yellowstone area, Wyoming.
National Park Service, Yellowstone, WY
In 1997, when Yellowstone National Park celebrated its 125th anniversary as the world's first national Park, Park staff began the "Greening of Yellowstone" initiative. Since that time, the Park and its partners have made remarkable advances in promoting sustainable practices and advancing sound environmental stewardship initiatives. Accomplishments include achieving a 65 percent diversion rate of solid waste, and composting more than 1,400 tons of material. There are currently 63 recycling bins at various locations within the Park, and it is estimated that between 2003 and 2005 there was a 70 percent increase in the amount of commodities collected. They also worked with concessioners to implement Environmental Management Systems. The Park replaced pressure-treated wood boardwalks with recycled plastic lumber on portions of the Park's fifteen miles of boardwalk. In 2005, more than 500 feet of boardwalk were replaced with recycled content plastic materials. The Park and its concessioners use biodiesel and other alternative fuels and vegetable-based lube and hydraulic oils in many of its vehicles. Since 1998, the Park and its partners have switched from more than 130 cleaning and janitorial products with health or environmental risks to less than 10 products that are safe for employees and the environment. A solar electric array installed at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, located within the Park, provides more than 90 percent of the complex's energy needs annually.
Of special note, the Park and its partners incorporate sustainable building materials and techniques to maintain, remodel and rehabilitate Yellowstone buildings. In 2005, the Park, in partnership with Xanterra, completed construction of the first LEED certified residences in the State of Montana (Yellowstone NP administered land).
Also, the Park and its partners created a program for collecting and recycling camp stove propane cylinders in the greater Yellowstone area. The Propane Bottle Recycler (PBR), a mobile propane cylinder recycling unit, is now being utilized to recycle an estimated 5,000, small, one-pound propane cylinders discarded in the greater Yellowstone area each year. The recycling function of this unit is twofold--the PBR is powered by propane that is extracted from the canisters and recycled; the canisters are then flattened to be recycled into steel. This is the first unit of its kind to address the significant issue of more than sixty million propane cylinders ending up in landfills in the United States every year. In 2005, Yellowstone National Park recycled 3,678 discarded cylinders within the greater Yellowstone area.
Through the creation of a unique partnership with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wyoming and Montana Department's of Environmental Quality, NPS Region 8 and Park concessioners (Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Yellowstone Park Service Stations, and Delaware North Park Services), the Park implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS). The EMS program provides guidance to the partners on how best to manage the environmental aspects of Park activities, educate visitors, and promote the latest technologies, in a more effective and sustainable way, while also giving consideration to environmental protection, pollution prevention and socioeconomic needs. Additionally, the program was custom designed to incorporate the fostering of innovative sustainable practices within the greater Yellowstone area, including other public land agencies as well as gateway communities.
In 2005, the EMS team conducted surveys within the Park, asking a wide cross- section of employees (more than 200) what they thought were the most important environmental concerns for the Park. An overwhelming majority of employees (and concessioners) identified solid waste management. This was due to two overriding concerns; that the mis-management of solid waste would lead to grizzly bear habituation, and second, employees wanted to share in the responsibility for ensuring the success of the newly constructed compost facility. As a result, a program was developed to manage solid waste and promote point source separation of non-compostable and hazardous waste. Since its implementation, there have been a number of processes developed to reduce or divert solid waste from the landfill. Recycling combined with composting, as well as other pre-sorting processes have resulted in Yellowstone National Park achieving a 65 percent diversion rate of solid waste from going to the landfill in 2005. The goal of the EMS team is a 90 percent diversion rate by 2008. Additionally, more than 1,400 tons of compost was produced in 2005 from the Park's solid waste stream.
- Recycling Opportunities For Visitors There are currently 63 recycling bins located at various locations within the Park, and it is estimated that between 2003 and 2005 there has been a 70 percent increase in the amount of commodities collected. This has been attributed to a focused education process; trying to reach as many of the three million visitors as possible. In addition to collecting paper, cardboard, steel, aluminum and glass, the Park has instituted an innovative plastics recycling program. In 2005, the Park collected more than 4 tons of #1 and #2 plastics. Total tonnage of all commodities collected in Yellowstone National Park in 2005 was 630 tons. The underlying reason for this success has been the partnering and collaboration with public and private entities, as well as the surrounding municipalities. By all partners working together, a non-profit recycling cooperative (Headwaters, Inc) was formed that currently encompasses portions of all three states surrounding the Park. Headwaters, Inc. has evolved into the largest recycling cooperative in the United States.
- Recycling Opportunities For Residents In the Mammoth Hot Springs area (Park headquarters), there is a pilot project underway that involves separating compostable materials from those that are non-compostable; the project has been a huge success for the efficiency and productivity of the regional compost facility, as well as maximizing recycling opportunities.
- Recycling Propane Cylinders Through a partnership with Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Teton concessioners, the Yellowstone Park Foundation, and several private entities, there is now a program for collecting and recycling propane cylinders in the greater Yellowstone area. The Propane Bottle Recycler (PBR), a mobile propane cylinder recycling unit, is now being utilized to recycle an estimated 5,000, small, one-pound propane cylinders discarded in the greater Yellowstone area each year. The recycling function of this unit is twofold --the PBR is powered by propane that is extracted from the canisters and recycled; the canisters are then flattened to be recycled into steel. This is the first unit of its kind to address the significant issue of more than sixty million propane cylinders ending up in landfills in the United States every year. In 2005 Yellowstone National Park recycled 3,678 discarded cylinders within the greater Yellowstone area.
- Recycling Glass Headwaters Recycling Cooperative, as mentioned earlier, is a regionally based grass-roots organization that encompasses a large portion of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Recently the cooperative has purchased a glass pulverizer through a collaborative effort with Yellowstone National Park and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. This unit pulverizes all types of glass and recycles it into silica sand. The sand can then be used for such applications as landscaping and road construction material. Due to the fact that the unit is mobile, it is envisioned that it will service the greater Yellowstone area, and beyond. A very focused education campaign has been underway with the surrounding communities to help attain the regional reuse of glass. In 2005, the glass pulverizer processed more than 1,000 tons of collected glass from within the region and Yellowstone National Park.
- Recycling Tires Thousands of tires are discarded annually by Yellowstone National Park fleet operations, eventually ending up in the landfill. Beginning in 2005, all used tires are now being diverted from the landfill and being recycled. Through partnering and collaboration with the concessioner of the Park's public service stations, as well as local tire businesses, the tires are being recycled into a wide variety of useful applications throughout Montana. In 2005, more than 4,000 tires have been diverted from the landfill and recycled.
Recycling Bins Nine "roll-off" dumpsters (20 cu. yd capacity) have been placed throughout the Park, to further promote pre-sorting of non-compostables. In 2005, an estimated 40 tons of non-compostable waste has been collected in these dumpsters and diverted away from the compost facility.
The Park has worked extensively with it's concessioners to foster sound environmental stewardship practices, and to ensure a consistent educational message is being communicated to all visitors, as well as all Park employees. In 2005, the mechanisms in place for this complex education process include:
- "GreenPath" Delaware North Park Services (Yellowstone General Stores) has implemented an employee "GreenPath" program throughout the Park to reduce waste, increase recycling and the use of non-toxic cleaning products; stocking merchandise with recycled content, biodegradability and minimum packaging.
"Ecologix" Achievements under Xanterra's "Ecologix" program include replacing approximately 70 percent (more than 22,000) incandescent light bulbs with efficient, compact, fluorescent lighting; replacing two-stroke engines for rental boats and snowmobiles with cleaner burning and more efficient four-stroke engines; recycling all used automobile batteries, antifreeze and paint solvents; serving organic fair-trade coffee and sustainable beef and pork products; and using recyclable paper materials.
Updates on other sustainable efforts Yellowstone and its partners have undertaken and fostered through 2005 include:
- Boardwalk Replacement The Park has replaced some of Yellowstone's pressure-treated wood boardwalks with recycled plastic lumber on portions of the Park's fifteen miles of boardwalk. In 2005, more than 500 feet of boardwalk were replaced with recycled plastic materials.
- Alternative Fuels The Park and its concessioners continue using biodiesel and other alternative fuels and vegetable-based lube and hydraulic oils in many of its vehicles. Additionally, all diesel-powered vehicles used by Park and Xanterra employees use a 20 percent blend of canola-derived biodiesel and petroleum diesel. All gasoline-powered vehicles in the Park use an ethanol blend (E-10). In 2005, Xanterra purchased a mobile refining oil unit that will process more than 11,000 gallons of used cooking oil generated by the Park's dining establishments into bio-diesel. The bio-diesel will be used in various administrative vehicles throughout the Park and region. All public gas stations in Yellowstone sell only ethanol blended fuel. In 2005, Yellowstone National Park burned 212,278 gallons of ethanol blended unleaded fuel and 166,460 gallons of bio-diesel blended fuel. Through calculations verified by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the Park, by using these alternative fuels, reduced carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 522 metric tons in 2005.
- Hybrid Vehicles Recently, Toyota USA donated four Prius vehicles to the Park. These vehicles operate with electricity generated by its gasoline engines and braking systems. Park Service personnel operating the vehicles have educated visitors about environmental technologies associated with hybrid vehicles, while conserving gas and reducing emissions and noise. By the end of 2005, these vehicles logged a total of more than 40,000 miles, have averaged more than 50 miles per gallon and have made thousands of visitor contacts.
- Employee Ride-Share Program Approximately 45 employees participate in a Ride-Share Program that helps reduce fuel consumption, improve safety by decreasing traffic on roads, and ease Parking constraints in the Park. During 2005, the bus logged more than 10,000 miles transporting employees to and from the workplace. The bus is fueled with bio-diesel.
- Sustainable Building Materials The Park and its partners incorporate sustainable building materials and techniques to maintain, remodel and rehabilitate Yellowstone buildings. In 2005, the Park, in partnership with Xanterra, completed construction of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified residences in the State of Montana (Yellowstone NP administered land).
- Green Cleaning Products Since 1998, the Park and its partners have switched from more than 130 cleaning and janitorial products with health or environmental risks to less than 10 products that are safe for employees and the environment. In 2005, the Park purchased more than 500 gallons of these environmentally preferable products.
- Renewable Energy A solar electric array installed at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, located within the Park, provides more than 90 percent of the complex's energy needs, annually. The Lewis Lake Visitor Contact Station and ranger residence also use solar energy, reducing the need for a propane generator. In addition, the LEED certified Xanterra employee housing units utilize Photovoltaic solar panels that offset 10-40 percent of the homes' electricity needs.
- Clean Snowmobile Challenge-(CSC) In 2000, Yellowstone National Park emerged as a major organizer of the CSC that was held in the greater Yellowstone area. This was the first ever collegiate design competition that challenged universities from the United States and Canada to develop a clean, quiet snowmobile without compromising performance or reliability. This Challenge has resulted in major design changes to stock snowmobiles by all snowmobile manufacturers. Yellowstone has remained a key supporter of CSC and has participated as a judge in major events of the annual week long competition. In 2005, Park staff judged more than 13 universities who entered into the CSC events in Houghton, Michigan.
- Clean Cities Program This is a Department of Energy grass-roots effort to address energy security and increase the use of alternative, cleaner fuels. The Greater Yellowstone/Teton Clean Cities Coalition is comprised of public and private stakeholders in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national Parks and surrounding gateway communities in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
The Clean Cities organization promotes the use of alternative fuels and assisted in formalizing the concept of a visitor shuttle system for the Park. In 2005, the Clean Cities Program was responsible for establishing three alternative fuel public gas stations within the greater Yellowstone area.
The Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (GYCC) was formed in 1965 to foster and promote consistency in the management of all public lands within the greater Yellowstone area (more than 18 million acres). The Committee is comprised of two Park superintendents, six national forest supervisors, and the managers of two Fish and Wildlife refuges. In 2005, a sub-committee of the GYCC was formed to address sustainability and environmental stewardship. A Yellowstone National Park representative is co-chair of this group. The guiding charter, as well as a comprehensive list of sustainability projects has been developed for implementation. This sub-committee will set the course for sound environmental management within the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
- Equipment for camp stove propane bottle recycling