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 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.