The National Park Service (NPS) announced earlier this month the recipients of its 2006 Environmental Achievement Awards honoring outstanding accomplishments in the preservation and protection of park resources. “The NPS is committed to incorporating environmental compliance, education, and stewardship into every aspect of park operations,” said NPS director Fran Mainella. “The award recipients have demonstrated exceptional achievements in the protection of ecosystems, the increase of solar and wind power, the reduction of solid waste and petroleum use, the design of sustainable buildings, and the purchasing of ‘green’ products.”
Dr. John Portnoy, an ecologist at Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts, received an environmental stewardship award. Portney is leading a multi-agency effort to restore 1,000 acres of the Herring River Salt Marsh, the largest wetland restoration project ever undertaken in New England. Portnoy conducted meticulous research to establish a scientific foundation for answering stakeholder questions at countless meetings about the past, present, and future of the salt marsh system. In addition, he was the driving force behind securing approximately $1.5 million in grants for funding the project, in partnership with non-governmental organizations and state, local, and other federal agencies.
The Jamaica Bay unit of Gateway National Recreation Area in New York received an award for exceptional achievement in the category of sustainable design. The park partnered with the NPS Denver Service Center, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and a local architectural firm to design and construct a new visitor contact station using sustainable design/green building principles. The team’s model approach included the extensive use of cork, bamboo and wheatboard building materials; a thermal storage wall for winter heat; natural lighting via light shelves, skylights, and light pipes; waterless urinals; and wind energy.
Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a concessioner at Zion National Park in Utah, received an environmental stewardship award. The company was recognized for pollution prevention and energy and water conservation programs at the Zion Lodge. Xanterra implemented wind power and a solar photovoltaic system to utilize renewable energy sources. They reduced water usage by 50% through native plant landscaping, low-flow fixtures, linen re-use, and guest education about water conservation, and decreased solid waste through a program of recycling, composting, and “green” procurement. Additionally, they improved their fleet fuel economy by purchasing hybrid cars and fuel efficient vehicles.
Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Doyon/ARAMARK received honorable mention recognition for their environmental achievements.
Yellowstone National Park teamed with concession employees, the Montana and Wyoming Departments of Environmental Quality and Region 8 of the Environmental Protection Agency to design and implement a program to reduce solid waste and promote point-source separation of recyclable materials and hazardous waste.
Yosemite National Park in California purchased 18 electric-diesel hybrid buses. The buses decreased annual petroleum fuel consumption by more than 14,000 gallons.
Doyon/ARAMARK, a concessioner at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, implemented a number of initiatives under an Environmental Management System. The modifications included installing particulate air filters/oxidation catalysts on their bus fleet to reduce emissions, donating used kitchen grease for blending and use as bio-diesel, and recycling more than 250,000 pounds of solid waste.
The NPS Environmental Achievement Award program is administered by the Park Facility Management Division in the Washington Office. The award winners and honorable mention recipients received commemorative plaques and a congratulatory letter from the NPS Director.