Olympic National Park

Olympic National ParkLocated on the Olympic Peninsula in the Northwest corner of Washington State, Olympic National Park consists of almost 1 million acres. From approximately 70 miles of wild Pacific coast and islands through densely forested lowlands to the glacier-crowned Olympic Mountains, Olympic National Park protects several distinctively different and relatively pristine ecosystems. These places shelter a unique array of habitats and life forms resulting from thousands of years of geographic isolation. Climate change will impact Olympic National Park through increased temperatures and varied precipitation, which may alter the natural ecosystems present and change both the habitats available for species and resources available for park visitor recreation.


In 2007, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within Olympic National Park totaled 12,310 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). This includes emissions from park and concessioner operations and visitor activities, including vehicle use within the park. The largest emission sector for Olympic National Park is Transportation, totaling 8,228 MTCO2E. Visitor vehicle travel within park boundaries produces 93 percent of transportation emissions within the park, and over 62 percent of total emissions from all sources within the park. In contrast, emissions from park operations (which exclude emissions from visitor and concessioner activities) were primarily from purchased electricity to operate park facilities. Emissions from park operations totaled 2,635 MTCO2E, resulting from Energy (55 percent), Transportation (22 percent), Waste (22 percent), and Other (1 percent) activities.


The graph below, taken from our Action Plan, shows our baseline emissions in 2007 broken down into sectors:



Olympic National Park has committed to the following goals:

  • Reduce GHG emissions from Park Operations to 30 percent below 2007-levels by the year 2016.
  • Reduce transportation-related GHG emissions, including those from visitor and concessioner vehicle travel, to 35 percent below 2007-levels by the year 2016.
  • Implement measures that best allow the Park’s natural and cultural resources to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Modify infrastructure as needed for sustainable function in new environments created by climate change.

Example Olympic National Park Planned Actions

Planned actions fall under 3 main strategies.  These strategies and specific examples of actions include:

1) Reduce GHG Emissions Resulting From Activities Within And By The Park

  • Install two-way metering to allow park facilities to return excess power to the grid.
  • Work with local contractors to investigate solar-ready locations throughout the park, and develop equipment and cost estimates.
  • Develop effective public transportation and shuttle systems for the most popular locations at Olympic National Park. 

2) Develop and implement a plan to adapt to current and future impacts of climate change

  • Partner with Climate Impacts Group (CIG) at University of Washington to assess the feasibility of additional downscaling of regional climate models to inform Olympic National Park and other local land management decisions.
  • Develop invasives training for Park and stakeholder staff.
  • Collaborate with Olympic National Forest and managers in coastal British Columbia to assess the vulnerability of endemic species and develop management options.

3) Increase climate change outreach and education efforts

  • Lead by example through hosting zero-waste events. Events could include lunch for volunteers and staff, seasonal dinner, Junior Ranger Day, and Perspective Series.
  • Create an electronic “all-employee” handbook that includes Climate Friendly Parks information.
  • Develop a “Plan your Visit” Web page that helps people plan a climate-friendly visit.

To read more about what we are doing at Olympic National Park about climate change with Climate Friendly Parks, check out our Action Plan