Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

About the Park

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is comprised of 12 diverse islands ready for exploring and 22 more that form an island wilderness. In all, there are 1,600 acres and 35 miles of ocean shoreline within this unit of the national park system.

The islands are both a recreational haven and a laboratory in which to learn about natural change and stewardship. Each of the 34 Boston Harbor Islands has a rich human history.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

The Boston Harbor Islands Partnership coordinates the activities of the managers of the islands and the national park as a whole and represents a range of federal, state, city, and nonprofit agencies. Twelve members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, one member is appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. The following member organizations are represented by voting partners and voting alternates:

  • National Park Service
  • United States Coast Guard
  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Massachusetts Port Authority
  • Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
  • City of Boston
  • Boston Redevelopment Authority
  • Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center
  • The Trustees of Reservations
  • Boston Harbor Island Alliance
  • Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council

The Boston Harbor Islands Partnership has an opportunity to serve as a model for more than 350,000 visitors annually. The Climate Action Plan summarizes the operational actions the Partnership has committed to undertake to address climate change. The strategies presented in the action plan present an aggressive first step toward moving Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area to the forefront of Climate Friendly Parks. Desired outcomes and proposed actions accompany each of five strategies: Cooperative Park Management, Energy Management, Transportation Management, Waste Management, Staff Behavior, and Education & Outreach.

While the Climate Friendly Parks action plan provides a framework needed to meet green house gas emissions targets, it is not intended to provide detailed instructions on how to implement each of the proposed measures. As called for in the park’s 2016 strategic plan, the National Park Service and the nine other Partnership agencies implementing this plan will enter into annual agreements identifying specific actions and responsibilities.

Emissions Profile

Greenhouse gas emissions at Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (“the park”) result from the combustion of fossil fuels for transportation (e.g., boats and motor vehicles) and energy (e.g., heating and cooling, generators), from decomposing of waste generated in the park, and from the release of gases from smaller sources such as refrigerants.

In 2008, greenhouse gas emissions within the park totaled 2,080 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2E). This includes emissions from park operations and visitor activities. For perspective, a typical single family home in the United States produces approximately 11 MTCO2 per year. U.S. EPA, Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculators – Calculations and References, Retrieved, Website: Thus, the combined emissions from park and concessioner operations, and visitor activities within the park, are roughly equivalent to the emissions from the electricity use of 189 households each year.

The greenhouse gas emissions analysis for Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area fall into three “sectors”: Energy Management, Transportation Management, and Waste Management. Greenhouse gas emissions within Boston Harbor Islands for 2008 are shown by sector in the table below. The largest emission sector for Boston Harbor Islands is transportation, totaling 1,317 MTCO2.

GHG Emissions

Outcomes/Performance Measures

  • By 2016, identify and adopt best management practices and standards for each strategic theme.
  • By 2016, reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions resulting from park operations (including transportation emissions) by 50% (2007 baseline).
    • Furthermore, by 2020 reduce or offset GHG emissions resulting from park operations by 100%.
  • By 2016, reduce overall energy consumption at park buildings by 25% (2008 baseline).
  • By 2016, procure or produce 25% of annual electricity consumption at park facilities from renewable sources.
  • By 2016, reduce solid waste that must be removed from the islands by 40% (2008 baseline).
  • By 2016, increase recycled material removed from the islands by 30% (2008 baseline).
  • By 2016, establish a park-wide materials management system for “waste” and other materials being brought off the islands.
  • By 2016, create and implement a park-wide informational program based on the principles and practices of “Leave-no-Trace” (no program in 2008).
  • By 2016, integrate messages about reducing visitors’ carbon footprint while at the park into four (4) information channels: interpretive programs, exhibits, promotional brochures, and the park website (no messages presented in 2008).
To read more about what we are doing at the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area about climate change, check out our Action Plan!