National Park Service honors Yellowstone concessioner with environmental award 
Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 06:14PM
Beth Pratt

Jonathan Jarvis, the Director of the National Park Service, has called climate change the greatest threat our national parks have ever faced. “Climate change challenges the very foundation of the national park system and our ability to leave America's natural and cultural heritage unimpaired for future generations.”

In Yellowstone National Park—one of the best-protected places on the planet—the impacts of climate change have already begun to threaten the environmental health of the region. Xanterra Parks and Resorts, the park concessioner, decided to take an innovative approach to help protect Yellowstone. In 2009, it launched the beginning of a comprehensive campaign called, “For Future Generations,” aimed at encouraging guests to be active stewards of Yellowstone and all national parks.

The campaign received recognition recently when Xanterra received a 2010 Environmental Achievement Award from the National Park Service. This award recognizes federal agencies and their contractors  – including concessioners – that have demonstrated exceptional achievements in the categories “Protection of ecosystems,” “Alternative energy use,” “Reduction of solid waste and petroleum use,” “Design of sustainable buildings” and “Climate-friendly innovations.”

The most prominent component of Xanterra’s environmental initiative is the park’s newest gift store – located in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and called “For Future Generations: Yellowstone Gifts.” The store emphasizes environmental impact through a sustainability scoring system the company developed and believes is the first of its kind for a retail operation. The company held a grand opening celebration for the store in January of 2010 featuring Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation as the keynote speaker.

Other components of the campaign include an innovative educational display for guest rooms with a plush animal toy, an educational brochure and a website on being a green guest in national parks. For employees, the “For Future Generations” campaign extends to training and awareness programs as well.

Xanterra’s environmental program in Yellowstone, called Ecologix, is widespread. Last year the company diverted 73 percent of its solid waste from landfills into other areas such as recycling, reusing and composting. Over the past nine years Xanterra has reduced its overall energy use by 14 percent and its water usage by 25 percent. 

For more information on Xanterra’s environmental initiatives in Yellowstone, visit the company's For Future Generations website.

Article originally appeared on greeningyellowstone (http://www.greeningyellowstone.org/).
See website for complete article licensing information.