• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

    Yellowstone

    National Park ID,MT,WY

Sustainable and Greening Practices

A pile of crushed propane tanks
Yellowstone National Park strives to demonstrate and promote sound environmental stewardship. Through these efforts, more than 5,000 small propane cylinders are crushed and redeemed as steel each year.
NPS
 

Support and direction for environmental stewardship in Yellowstone is embedded in both the National Park Service mission and Yellowstone's significance. Recent executive orders and acts require the federal government to protect resources through sustainable operations and facility adaptation. Yellowstone has been working toward becoming a greener park for many years. Early efforts in sustainability included developing a regional composting facility, operating alternatively fueled vehicles, replacing toxic solvents, and overhauling the park's recycling program. In 2013, Yellowstone hosted a third greening conference that highlighted environmental stewardship successes in the region, and brainstormed future improvements to sustainable practices.

The park's continued commitment to sustainability is made more urgent due to a changing climate and increasing impacts to natural resources both locally and globally. Yellowstone's complexity creates challenges and requires collaboration among managers and assistance from partners. Many sustainable efforts are facilitated by the Yellowstone Environmental Coordinating Committee consisting of representatives from the National Park Service, Xanterra Parks &Resorts, Delaware North Companies, the Yellowstone Association, Medcor, Yellowstone Park Service Stations, and the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Yellowstone's Strategic Plan for Sustainability was developed in 2011 and 2012 by Yellowstone staff, concessioners, educational institutions, and corporate partners. The Strategic Plan for Sustainability presents a clear direction by which everyone—employees, visitors, and partners—can work collaboratively to make Yellowstone greener. The plan builds upon servicewide direction and previous greening efforts, such as the Yellowstone Environmental Stewardship (YES!) Initiative. It focuses on specific goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water use, and waste production, to adapt facilities, and to conduct operations in an environmentally responsible manner.

 

Quick Facts on Sustainable and Greening Practices in Yellowstone

The Issue
Demonstrating and promoting sound environmental stewardship through regional and national partnerships.

History

  • 1995: Biodiesel truck donated to park to test alternative fuel.
  • 1997: Park celebrates 125th anniversary and "greening" efforts increase.
  • 1998: Old Faithful wood viewing-platform replaced with recycled plastic lumber;employee Ride-Share Program begins.
  • 1999: Yellowstone National Park begins using nontoxic janitorial supplies and offers ethanol blended fuel to visitors.
  • 2002: The park's diesel fleet converts to biodiesel blend;the Greater Yellowstone/Teton Clean Energy Coalition receives federal designation.
  • 2003: Regional composting facility opens;park demonstrates the first fuel cell in a national park;park begins testing prototype alternatively-fueled multi-season vehicles.
  • 2004: Park employees begin using hybrid vehicles; Xanterra employee housing receives LEED designation.
  • 2007: Park completes a greenhouse gas inventory, leading to initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; interns begin gathering data for sustainability efforts.
  • 2011 and 2013: Representatives from corporate partners and educational institutions participate in "Greening Yellowstone Conference."

Park Waste Diverted from Landfills

  • 2006: 70%
  • 2010: 80%
  • 2011: 72% (50% recycling, 22% compost)

Recycling
2013 recycling in the park:

  • newspapers, magazines, office paper: 63 tons
  • aluminum and steel: 158 tons
  • glass:137 tons
  • plastics: 68 tons
  • cardboard: 304 tons
  • small propane canisters: 6 tons
  • food waste and other garbage composted: 694 tons
  • manure: 286 tons
 
Additional Resources

  • Yellowstone’s Strategic Plan for Sustainability: Developed in 2011 and 2012 by Yellowstone staff, concessioners, educational institutions, and corporate partners. The plan presents a clear direction by which everyone—employees, visitors, and partners—can work collaboratively to make Yellowstone greener. The plan builds upon servicewide direction and previous greening efforts, such as the Yellowstone Environmental Stewardship (YES!) Initiative. It focuses on specific goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water use, and waste production, to adapt facilities, and to conduct operations in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • National Park Service Green Parks Plan
  • Yellowstone Park Foundation

Did You Know?