Water fountain with bottle filling station and a spot for your furry friend.
More than 600,000 people visit Petrified Forest National Park every year to explore the Painted Desert or discover ancient fossil trees. Nationwide, the National Park System hosts over 285 million visitors per year. The 1916 NPS Organic Act mandates that parks be managed not only for the enjoyment of today's visitors, but "preserved for future generations" as well. To achieve both, parks must be managed in a way that minimizes our collective footprint on the land. In a word, parks must be sustainable.
Could you imagine what life would be like without modern energy? The natural resources and energy we use are essential to our lives. However, the source of these resources and how they are used can significantly impact the environment, also known as an environmental footprint.
Sustainable practices lead to a reduction of the park's environmental footprint and contribution to climate change.
For years, Petrified Forest National Park has worked to reduce its environmental footprint. The park's Green Team works to make the park more sustainable and implements environmental goals.
Renewable energy provides clean, carbon-neutral electricity for our park operations. We utilize photovoltaic panels in multiple locations such as the park gates. Ultra-efficient LED bulbs now light some park facilities, as well.
Energy conservation and efficiency are the most cost-effective ways to reduce Petrified Forest's carbon footprint. The park has audited many of its buildings and begun implementing many energy conservation measures.
The use of fossil fuels in vehicles releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The park is working to reduce the use of fossil fuels in our fleet of vehicles and heavy duty equipment.
Water is a precious resource, and Petrified Forest is making efforts to conserve water whenever possible. Low flow faucets are only one example of the park's water conservation techniques. Watering non-native plants can gulp up a lot of water used in the park. Landscaping at the Painted Desert Community Complex and around the Painted Desert Inn NHL has including native and other xeric plants, adding to the beauty while conserving water.
Proper waste separation with recycling and composting helps decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills. The park recycles plastics, metals, and paper. Visitors play an active role in helping the park achieve its waste diversion goals. There are recycling containers at the Rainbow Forest Museum, Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark, and Painted Desert Visitor Center.
Purchasing green products such as cleaning agents made with plant-based ingredients and recycled paper products help avoid the harmful impacts on health and the environment that conventional products may cause. Properly disposing of hazardous materials such as batteries is an important activity at the park, too.
Below are five sustainable steps you can take to lighten your carbon footprint while visiting Petrified Forest National Park and at home!
1. Walk instead of driving when possible. Don't idle your vehicle while parked.
2. Use a refillable water bottle rather than purchasing bottled water. The park does not sell bottled water.
3. When picnicking, wash and reuse plates, cups and utensils instead of using disposable products.
4. Pack out waste that cannot be recycled. Reduce, reuse, and recycle when possible.
5. Drive at the posted highway speed while travelling. Did you know that for every 5 mph above 65 mph results in a 7-percent increase in fuel use?
Petrified Forest National Park is working towards achieving the status of "Climate Friendly Park". As a participant in the National Park Service's Climate Friendly Parks program, Petrified Forest now belongs to a network of over 100 parks nationwide that are committed to reducing resource consumption, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, understanding potential resource impacts from climate change, and educating park staff and the public about climate change and sustainability.
For more information on NPS sustainability operations visit http://www.nps.gov/sustainability.