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Welcome!

As a social entrepreneur, I am dedicated to finding innovative solutions for greening business. As a passionate supporter of National Parks and public lands, I work toward protecting these special places from the impacts of climate change and pollution.

Beth%20in%20Yellowstone.jpg

Join me on this site as I report from Yellowstone on the threats climate change poses toward our beloved national parks, and how Yellowstone and other parks are making a difference in sustainability.

"If we continue to increase our emissions of heat-trapping gases, a disrupted climate will cause the greatest damage to our national parks ever."
Stephen Saunders

"A climate disrupted by human activities poses such sweeping threats to the
scenery, natural and cultural resources, and wildlife of the West’s national parks that it
dwarfs all previous risks to these American treasures."
From NRDC Losing Ground Report

"Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse global environmental and social degradation."
Paul Hawken
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01/12/11: "The End of the Wild," Emma Marris, Nature

01/06/11: Climate change threatens Sierra, delta, group says," Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle

01/05/11"Environmentalists pick Snake Basin, Yellowstone among most threatened habitats by climate change," Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman

12/31/10"Yellowstone Grizzlies and the Betrayal of the Public Trust," Louisa Wilcox, NRDC Switchboard

12/26/10: "How a Tiny Beetle Could Decimate Yellowstone," Elizabeth Shogren, NPR

12/21/10: "Once upon a time, whitebark pine . . ." Matt Skoglund, NRDC Switchboard

12/21/10: "Climate Change's threat to the wolverine," Rebecca Waters, High Country News

12/08/10: "Silence of the Pikas, Part II," Wendee Holtcamp, Adventures in Climate Change and Bioscience

12/08/10: "Climate Change Response Strategy Released by NPS Alaska," Alaska Business Monthly

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  • Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (Speaker's Corner)
    Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (Speaker's Corner)
    by Larry J. Schweiger
  • Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming
    Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming
    by Anthony D. Barnosky
  • Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
    Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
    by Bill McKibben
  • Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
    Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
    by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
    Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
    by James Hansen
  • Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference (Chelsea Green Guides)
    Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference (Chelsea Green Guides)
    by Jon Clift, Amanda Cuthbert
  • Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis
    Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis
    by Al Gore
  • The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd Edition
    The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd Edition
    by Robert Henson

Sunday
Oct032010

Where the antelope roam: following in the footsteps of Yellowstone’s pronghorn

NPCA's Joe Josephson leads a group on a hike following the migration of Yellowstone's pronghorn. Photo: Beth PrattAlthough the focus of yesterday's outing was supposed to be pronghorn, the musical bugling of the rutting elk resounded throughout, and the group encountered several herds, and a few dueling bulls. Yet even with their less showy courtship ritual (primarily a male pronghorn continually herding his harem), the pronghorn did not disappoint. Participants following the footsteps of the ancient animal encountered a small group on the shoulder of Mt. Everts in Yellowstone National Park and watched in delight as the animals loped across the hillsides.

The group, led by National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) Wildlife Fellow Joe Josephson, spent the day tracing part of the migration route of the Yellowstone pronghorn.

The nomadic pronghorns that inhabit the western United States wander long distances on their annually migration—research has shown movement up to 300 miles.  Yet the migration of Yellowstone’s pronghorn—numbering roughly 300—has been sharply curtailed by human development.

For the pronghorn herds that inhabit the park, a historical migration that once took the animals up the river canyon to nearby Paradise Valley in Montana has now been shortened considerably. Some of the pronghorn even forgo migrating and live year-round near the north entrance and Gardiner, searching out sustenance from the sparse forage during the winter months. Climate change may also be affecting the animals as a drier climate in the west impacts foraging conditions.

Josephson conducts outreach for the NPCA campaign to protect the pronghorn and is working with ranchers and landowners to remove or modify fences to help improve the animal's access through private land. Although pronghorn physiologically have difficulty jumping, they can crawl under fences designed with 18-inch openings on the bottom.

Pronghorn are truly remarkable animals. Called “speed goats” by Lewis and Clark, the fleet-footed creatures can sprint across a grassy steppe at speeds of up to 60 mph. As the fastest land mammal in North America, an adult pronghorn can outrun its predators; even a newborn fawn a couple of days after its birth can run faster than a human. Pronghorn are not true antelope, despite their mention in the well-known song, "Home on the Range," under that name.

Visit the NPCA website for more information about the group’s efforts to protect Yellowstone’s pronghorn.

Wednesday
Sep292010

Sanyo helps Xanterra green its transportation in Yellowstone with hybrid bikes

Xanterra bell staff member Frank Wuenning using the eneloop bike in Yellowstone (photo by Beth Pratt)“This bike has some serious power,” said Xanterra bell staff member Frank Wuenning. “On a busy day, instead of using a vehicle to deliver messages or packages, I can ride the bike.”

Sanyo provided five of its eneloop bikes—a pedal assisted, synergetic hybrid model—to Xanterra Parks & Resorts for use at its operations in Yellowstone National Park. Incorporating the eneloop bike into everyday activities, such as general operations in the park at some of the tourist attractions, like the lodge at Old Faithful or Mammoth Hot Springs, for delivering packages to hotel tenants or traveling from the employee dormitories to local work sites, the eneloop bike will be used as a viable, sustainable alternative form of transportation.

The eneloop bike features a regenerative charging system similar to hybrid automobiles, which allows the bike to re-generate energy, replenishing part of its power needs through regenerative coasting and braking. The bike is equipped to not only generate energy but to store energy as well, thereby eliminating emissions and encouraging the preservation of the natural environment.

Yellowstone and other national parks are already suffering from the impacts of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable transportation is key to protecting public lands. As every gallon of gasoline emits almost twenty pounds of carbon dioxide, reducing use of traditional vehicles in the park will help combat climate change. As part of its extensive environmental program, Xanterra has a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2015.

Thursday
Aug262010

Opening celebration for Yellowstone's new Old Faithful Visitor Center draws hundreds of visitors

Sam Galindo, with his father NPS architect Peter Galindo, greets the first visitors to the center. Photo: Beth PrattNot to be upstaged, Old Faithful surged into the blue sky during the grand opening celebration of its new namesake visitor center, causing the hundreds in attendance to turn from the proceedings and watch the spectacular eruption.

The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center opened today, after almost eight years of planning and over two years of construction. Sam Galindo (the son of the National Park Service project architect) proudly waved a Yellowstone flag and led the first visitors into the building.

Wyoming residents Ben and Darlene Frint made the trip to Yellowstone just to see the new center. "Yellowstone is our favorite park--we’ve been coming here forever." The Jaynes and Poulsen families--with infants in tow--were visiting the park from Wisconsin and joined the celebration. "We love the hands on stuff. This place is beautiful and amazing."

Yellowstone’s Superintendent, Suzanne Lewis, introduced a series of special guests during the opening ceremony, including Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Tom Strickland. "We have a tremendous legacy in this country, a unique legacy of protecting our special places for the benefit and enjoyment of all, not just the few."

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis spoke about how parks are not just beautiful places, but also centers of learning for students where they can be inspired to explore careers in science. Jarvis also praised the green building model of the new center. "Parks should be an exemplar and world leader in sustainability. And this Gold LEED Certified building does just that."

Lewis recognized the Yellowstone Park Foundation and its donors for making the center possible. "It’s hard for us to underestimate how much the efforts of the Yellowstone Park Foundation helped us get here today. They raised $15 million—over half of the budget." The Foundation’s board chairman, Bannus Hudson, told the crowd, "As the park’s official fundraising organization, this is the proudest day in our history." Major donors to the project include ConocoPhillips, the National Science Foundation, Shalin Liu, Unilver, Cheng Wu, Coca-Cola Foundation, and Toyota Motor Sales, USA, among others.

Paul Schullery, the author and Yellowstone historian featured in Ken Burn’s documentary, The National Parks, delivered the keynote address and called the center "a powerful new tool for celebrating Yellowstone." He gave a brief history of visitor centers in the park. "Some of the early museums were called trailside museums, explicit emphasis on trailside, because the rangers, then and now, never let you forget that the real wonder is out there, not inside."

And as if on cue, Old Faithful erupted soon after his remark.

Sunday
Aug222010

New Old Faithful Visitor Center opens next week in Yellowstone

The new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center in Yellowstone National Park Photo: Beth PrattAbove the park ranger information desk, where construction workers were still putting the finishing touches on the rockwork, an exhibit sign announces the significance of Yellowstone’s geothermal features: “The largest collection of geysers and hot springs on Earth is preserved at Yellowstone National Park for the benefit and inspiration of people around the world.”

Linda Young, Yellowstone’s Chief of Interpretation, hopes this and other state-of-the-art interactive exhibits at the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center will be inspiring to visitors and “help people understand attractions like Old Faithful. This visitor center isn’t meant to replace the park experience, but to get people more excited about exploring the park.”

The spacious exhibit area includes a “Young Scientist” room with a simulated geyser. Young commented, “the room is intended for kids, but we know we’ll get a lot of adults having fun there as well.” Other interactive displays—including a beautiful diorama—help visitors understand the mud pots, geysers, hot springs and other geothermal features fueled by Yellowstone’s unique volcanic underworld.

Next week the doors will open to the new center, a $27 million building that has been under construction for the last two and a half years. The Yellowstone Park Foundation—Yellowstone’s official non-profit fundraising partner—raised $15 million of the total budget with major gifts from ConocoPhillips, Shalin Liu, Unilever, Cheng Wu, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Toyota, and the National Science Foundation. Karen Kress, President of the Yellowstone Park Foundation, is pleased with the results, “The park asked us to get involved to make this a special place instead of just a typical visitor center. And we were able to do that in two ways—with the incredible educational experience that the center offers and the attention to sustainability in the building’s construction.”

The new facility has been awarded Gold Level LEED designation, the first building in Yellowstone National Park to do so and one of the few to achieve that distinction in the entire National Park System. Over 99% of the construction waste was diverted from the landfill, many building materials contain a high percentage of recycled material, and the building itself will use about a third less energy than a similar traditional structure.

Project manager Theodore Conover with the design firm CTA Architects highlighted the care the designers took in being sustainable and in protecting the surrounding hydrothermal system, “We raised the foundation up on a crawl space because concrete can absorb heat. We didn’t want another Old Faithful in the middle of the visitor center.” Josh Mullaney with general contractor Swank Enterprises, talked about the benefits of working on a LEED project, “My enlightenment was learning how much we could divert with minimal effort—which both helped the environment and saved money.”

The National Park Service is holding a public opening ceremony for the center next Wednesday at 11:00 am.

Tuesday
Aug032010

Vice President Biden showcases stimulus projects in national parks, meets Yellowstone employees

Vice President Biden in Yellowstone with park ranger (Photo by Beth Pratt)As the crowd of park employees awaited the Vice President’s arrival in Yellowstone, the excitement shifted temporality to a bull moose foraging along the banks of the Madison River. Moose sightings are rare in this area and park staff quickly began snapping photographs.

Yet when the Vice President appeared he had the full attention of the group as he spoke about his love for Yellowstone amidst a backdrop of the spectacular Madison River Canyon and National Park Mountain. Biden called Yellowstone a “majestic place,” and told of how the park had helped him and his sons heal after the death of his wife and daughters. “I want my granddaughter to come back with her granddaughters and to have nothing changed.”

Watch a video of Vice President Biden talking about his love for Yellowstone:

 

Biden, accompanied by Director of the National Park Service Jonathan Jarvis, Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, and Vice President of Dick Anderson Construction, Ed Bennet, detailed the stimulus projects underway in Yellowstone and other national parks as part of the ‘Summer of Recovery.’ Yellowstone received over $12 million in stimulus funds. “We are investing today in something that has long lasting consequences that will benefit future generations,” Biden told the audience.

The investment in parks—budgeted at almost a billion dollars—also benefits the economy. Yellowstone alone contributes $340 million to the local economy and employs over 5,000 workers in the region.

A local company, Dick Anderson Construction of Montana, began construction on one of the largest of Yellowstone’s Recovery Act projects, the replacement of the Madison Wastewater Treatment Plant. Another upcoming project involves the installation of a new Micro Hydroelectric Generation Facility in Mammoth Hot Springs (replacing an old facility run by the U.S. Amy over a century ago) that will reduce greenhouse gas emission by 695 tons a year.

Biden remained after his presentation and spent time talking with the park staff and their families, willingly posing for photographs and signing autographs for those in attendance. He and his granddaughter left after the event to tour the Old Faithful Area, where President Obama and his family visited last year. Biden will visit the Grand Canyon on Tuesday.