Transcript: KWMR: Epicenter: Sustainability at Point Reyes National Seashore
[Marc Matheson] Bolinas, live and archived on the worldwide web at kwmr.org, it's "Epicenter." My name is Marc Matheson. I'll be with you for the next, uh, hour with my guests, um, folks from Point Reyes National Seashore's sustainability effort. So, do stay tuned for an hour of very interesting local, uh, news and information.
Right now, I want to play a little bit of music for you from Fog Dub. They are...they're performing at Far West Fest this Saturday which is happening here in Point Reyes Station at Love Field, over at the corner of Levee Road and Highway 1. And Fog Dub is one of many groups that will be performing. That's Far West Fest, voted the mest...best musical festival in Marin. Eleven bands, three stages. The music offers funk, rock, reggae, and bluegrass. There's beer and wine, local cuisine and craft vendors. The gates opened at eleven o'clock in the morning. You can check out the festival map online at www.farwestfest.org. And you can buy tickets here at KWMR, Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 5 pm, here at KWMR. And, on Friday, the tickets are on sale from 10 to 2 pm, only. Or you can buy your tickets online at farwestfest.org. The best music festival in Marin. And it's a benefit for community radio KWMR.
Again, it's Epicenter here on KWMR. Stay tuned. My name is Marc Matheson. We'll be right back.
[instrumental music featuring brass instruments and an electronic keyboard]
[Marc] Okay, that's Fog Dub playing this Saturday, July 27 at Far West Fest. Gates open 11 o'clock. Tickets on sale now at farwestfest.org or here at KWMR, weekdays until 5 pm, Friday 10 to 2 pm.
And I want to thank my guests, who are here this morning with me from Point Reyes National Seashore Sara Hammond and Dale Dualan.
Sara is an engineering technician and sustainability coordinator for Point Reyes National Seashore. Originally hailing from Macum, Illinois, Sara moved to the Marin-Sonoma area and has been working for Point Reyes National Seashore since 2008. Her career at Point Reyes National Seashore began as an invasive plant management intern through the Student Conservation Association. Sara's work now focuses heavily on building efficiencies, energy management, and alternative fuels and transportation projects. She holds a bachelor's degree in zoology and religious studies from Western Illinois University and has currently enrolled in the sustainable business practices online certificate program through the University of California San Diego extension school. Sara enjoys camping, swimming, the Chicago Cubs, and spending partner...spending time with her partner, Matt, and two cats, Mia and Peach.
My other guest, Dale Dualan, is also an engineering technician and sustainability coordinator for Point Reyes National Seashore under the facility manag...maintenance division. Dale grew up in Modesto and earned a Bachelors of Science degree in conservation and resource studies at the University of California at Berkeley in 2009. He started working for Point Reyes National Seashore in 2010 as a Student Conservation Association intern. With Sara, Dale helps to coordinate the parks sustainability program. Much of his work includes outreach and communications, overseeing the parks recycling and composting operations, and assisting the facility maintenance division with planning and compliance for park projects. Dale is also currently enrolled in the sustainability and built environment online certificate program through the University of California at Davis extension school. And, in his spare time, he enjoys shooting three-point baskets, running, playing the cello, and spending time with family.
And, so, I want to welcome Sara and Dale to Epicenter here.
[Sara] Thanks for having us.
[Dale] Thanks, Marc. Thank you.
[Marc] Thank you. So, I want to give our listeners a little bit of an overview. Some of the stuff we'll be talking about includes enerny...energy management and conservation, water management and conservation, alternative transportation projects, sustainability outreach and education, composting and other waste diversion projects, and project compliance. But first, I want to get to know you a little bit better. So, maybe, Sara, we'll start with you. Your biography says you're from...is it Macum?
[Sara] It's, um, Macomb, Illinois.
[Marc] Oh, Macomb, okay, of course. I was thinking, Georgia.
[all three chuckle]
[Marc] And what was that like? Is that out in the country?
[Sara] It is, yeah. It's, um, uh, west central Illinois, about 35...40 miles east of the Mississippi River. I always say, uh, if Illinois was, uh, pregnant, we'd be, uh, the baby. Uh, it's right there in the western bulge of Illinois. Grew up on a family farm. Uh, we raised all kinds of livestock, had a huge garden, um, lots of orchards, uh, lots of fruit trees, so, uh, sustainability has been in my blood, I think, uh, since day one. But, uh, the move to, uh, West Marin and Sonoma County has been a change of scenery, but I definitely feel at home here.
[Marc] What did you raise on the farm?
[Sara] Uh, livestock-wise, we had, uh, beef cattle. Um, we also had, uh, some ho [coughs] some hogs and a horse. And at one time, we were raising a lot of turkeys, too.
[Marc] And it never appealed to you, in terms of a career?
[Sara] No, not farming.
[Marc] Oh, I guess if you grew up on a farm, it's different than if you don't.
[Sara] Yeah, a little different. I...I've always kind of been independent in spirit, so, uh, never wanting to do, uh, take on the family's maybe traditional roles.
[Marc] And then, Sara, what brought you to California? Oh
[Sara] Oh, that was the...my internship with the Student Conservation Association when I graduated, um, University. I had the opportunity to come out here and work, um, with, uh, Ranger Bobby Simpson, um, who, uh, is a friend of KWMR and, um...kind of got involved with a...multi-divisional global climate change group and just, really...got really excited about the work that they were doing and the work that they wanted to do. And, um, that kind of, uh, sprung me into the position that I'm...that I'm in right now.
[Marc] And is this something that you, kind of, aspired to as such as a kid?
[Marc]What were your...
[Sara] Yeah, I think so. I remember when I was around eight or nine, um, going to the Illinois State Fair and the, um...Illinois Department of, uh, Natural Resources, uh, had a kids' area where they were talking about conservation, they were talking about wildlife management. And I remember at that age just being so...curious and impressed and...just s...so many questions about: how does this work? Like, what am I doing as an individual? You know, even at that young age to have enough like, uh, an effect on the bigger, uh, community and environment that I belong to. And, so, that...that was a big turning point, I think, for me and my life. And I was always interested in biology, environmental management, sustainability.
[Marc] And then your biography mentions religious studies, as well. Was...how did that make sense?
[Sara] Yeah, you know, I think, you know, being raised in the Midwest in a pretty conservative town, when I graduated from college, I started learning about all these different worlds around me and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to, um, learn about religion. You know, what makes people tick? Why do they think the way they think? Like, what motivates them? And I really, kind of, fell in love with, uh, a couple of, uh, classes that I took on Eastern religions. And, um, my dad would always tease me and say, "Oh, are you gonna teach religion to animals?" and I'm like, "No, dad. There's a career out there for me some...somewhere." So, um, I think I found it and I couldn't be happier.
[Marc] That's wonderful. That's wonderful. And Dale, how about you? What was your early childhood like, and...and your early inspirations?
[Dale] Um, so, I...I grew up in Modesto, California. Um, kind of, uh, from a quiet environment. Um. Kind of just grew up in the suburbs. Um, went through the motions of, you know, just going through school. Um. Found my way up to, uh, Berkeley, uh, where I went to, uh, to attend to...my university there. And, um, you know, I think that's where I found my inspiration and what led me to, uh, where I'm at today.
Um, you know basically that, um, you know, coming-of-age journey, and, um, you know, initially, I, um, was kind of, you know, I didn't know what I wanted to do, um, in life, and you know, just kind of raised to, you know, maybe pursue the, uh, the doctor or the lawyer, um, type of, you know, career at the end of...at the end, and, um, I discovered, you know, it wasn't really the path for me.
When I started, you know, taking classes and...and meeting, uh, meeting people that were really passionate about what they were doing, and I thought, you know you know, "How come I don't have that passion yet?" So, just by, um, you know, meeting people and taking classes that I felt affected...um, not only myself, but my family and the environment, um, you know, I...I felt like, maybe I can do some, you know, some service in the future, um, you know, surrounding the environment and issues related.
And, uh, that's how I, you know, got...found myself majoring in conservation and resource studies, of all things, and, um, you know, it was like, uh, an environmental hippie science major and, um, I don't, you know, I...I didn't even see myself doing this coming out of Modesto and...um...now being able to say that I work here at Point Reyes National Seashore and being, um, part of a great mission and a service to the public, you know, it's...it's...it's an awesome feeling. So....
[Marc] And was there a particular moment or class or teacher that kind of....
[Dale] I...I...I just think overall the experience, um, and I think that's what education, um, brings...brings to people. Um, and I think you just, kind of, have to get that...make that first step and...and go beyond, um, you know, your...your own limits. And I think that's what I kind of did. Um, you know, just by going against, maybe, what my parents wanted me to be and, um, just, kind of, trying to pursue my own dreams and my own passion and...and shaping that with the culture that wa...I was surrounded in. Um, and...and...and now being able to apply what I've learned, um, you know, it's...it's...it's great to say that 'cause, um, you know, it's...it's tough in this...in this environment today to...to be able to apply your...your education, and, um, you know, being able to do that, it's...it's...it's a great privilege and honor. So....
[Marc] And then, Sara and Dale, you both got involved through the, uh, Student Conservation Association. What…what is that and what kind of work do they do?
[Dale] Yeah, um, the Nat..., um, [chuckles] the...the Student Conservation Association is a national nonprofit. It, um, it's a big partner with, you know, uh, any, uh, Federal agency, you know, government, um, agency, uh, public, uh, or private businesses, nonprofits that are involved with any type of environmental issue. Um, and it gives, uh, young people the chance to, um, you know, get their foot in the door and get involved in an internship opportunity anywhere across the country, from, like, counting bears in Alaska or, uh, working with, uh, um, wetlands, um, type restoration in Cape Cod, uh, Massachusetts. Um, you know, it's...it's very endless and that's how we...we kind of found our springboard into the Park Service. And, um, you know, Sara is actually the one who hired me [chuckles] uh, when I was looking for a position here, and, um, I started off here as, um, a, um, SCA intern. And this is my first and only park so far, and, um, you know, it's just been an awesome experience.
[Marc] And, Sara, did you want to add anything about CSA?
[Sara] Um...[cross talk]
[Sara] Yeah, SCA, I think what's interesting and unique about SCA is that, um, I think it focuses a lot on high school and, uh, college-aged, uh, people, but I've also known, um, folks that have retired and also looked at SCA as an opportunity to do some travel and, um, get some, maybe, uh, items checked off their bucket list that they may have always wanted to do. So, um, they pay for your travel and they pay for your housing and they give you a stipend for, um, continuing education or, possibly, paying off some student loans that, uh, one may have. So, uh, it's a really great program, uh, for all ages
[Marc] Fantastic, fantastic. So, let's talk a little bit...so, Dale's been at the park for three years; is that right?
[Dale] That's correct.
[Marc] Through SCA. And, Sara, how long have you been at Point Reyes National Seashore?
[Sara] Uh...coming up on five years.
[Marc] Five years. And were you at another park before that?
[Sara] No, I...I just graduated from college and then went into the internship.
[Marc] Nice. And...um...so, maybe...can you give me an overview...or...so, Sara, you're the head of the sustainability effort or are the two of you partnering in that or....
[Sara] Yeah, we're partners.
[Marc] Yeah, so maybe you could give listeners a little overview about sustainability efforts at the park.
[Sara] Sure, absolutely.
[Marc] Why sustainability? What are some of the goals of it and...and some of the different programs?
[Sara] So, the mission of the National Park Service and sustainable operations really do go hand-in-hand. Um, the mission of the National Park Service is to preserve...to preserve and protect America's very special natural and cultural places. And practicing sustainable operations and teaching our public ties really strongly into that mission, so we are here in a hundred... a thousand years, um, preserving these amazing places.
And I think the only way you get from point A to point B is to stop, look at your operations, evaluate...evaluating—"Hey, how are we doing this? Are we being as sustainable as possible?"—benchmarking, and then making a short- and long-term plans.
So, um, our program at the park, uh, we always call it like the...the five wheels of sustainability, but we focus a lot on energy management, water management, um, green...greening our fleets, outreach and education, and, uh, composting, recycling, and, uh, waste diversion.
And that five wheels of sustainability are kind of branching out and our...our program grows as...as, uh, our visitors and our staff, alike, come up to us and say, "Hey! I saw this really great thing and, you know, SFO Airport where they're offering refillable bottle stations. We should do that here." I have visitors coming up and being like, "I have a, uh, electric vehicle and I'd love to see a charging station." uh, you know, that we can use when we visit." So, we're constantly being inspired by the people we serve and work with.
[Marc] And, Sara, did you create the programs? Were they...did...?
[Sara] Yeah, uh, well...uh...kind of, um, [crosstalk]
[Marc] Was there a program like this when you arrived?
[Sara] There wasn't a program; there was a global climate change group and they were looking at operations and coming up with ideas, um, to make, uh, processes and programs more sustainable and efficient. So, um, that was folks from all kinds of division from natural resource management, from cultural management, from law enforcement, uh, just, kind of, bringing their own unique perspective of how the park, uh, works and operates. And,uh, when I was interning, um, I attended a couple of meetings and, like I said, it just kind of caught...it kindled a fire inside of me that I was like, "This is something I can do. I'm really excited. I have a lot of passion for." And, so, it was just, kind of, doing a lot of observation of what's going on at the park, a lot of benchmarking, a lot of measuring, a lot of metrics, and then, just like, lots of education, a lot of webinars, just a lot of, like, education. And, then, getting the program, you know, up and running, getting employee buy-in.
[Marc] And then, you both are in this online certificate program...uh...uh...Sara, you're in the sustainable business practices program and Dale is in sustainability and built environment program. And is that...is that sort of helping with the work that you're doing at the park? Is it sort of this back and forth between those two?
[Dale] Yes, it's...it's kind of coupled with, um, our...our, you know, work responsibilities and tasks. Um, we're kind of in this unique, uh, Park Service, uh, Pathways Program, um, that, um, you know, requires us to also, um, you know, pursue a, you know, certificate program or a master's degree, uh, to help us, uh, train and, uh, get the training and the education, um, you know, that will help supply for our, um, for our positions and...and...and being able to apply that, uh, in our work environment.
[Marc] And probably makes the job, uh, better.
[Dale] Yeah, it's definitely an added bonus and...and these, uh, these education programs are...are, you know, kind of new and innovative and, um, they're, you know, they're just hitting the ground running with all these fresh ideas. And, uh, seeing what...what can work, um, and how we can adapt to, you know, to changes.
[Marc] And I want to come back to that point that you just raised in just a minute. I want to let listeners know that you are listening to community radio KWMR's epicenter program. My name is Marc Matheson, and my guests this afternoon are Sara hammered and...Sara Hammond and Dale Dualan, both of whom are engicate...engineering technician and sustainability coordinators for Point Reyes National Seashore.
And, Dale, I want to come back to that point that you just raised, because...I was at the...uh...I think in 2007 at the Bioneers conference. And there was a fella there who's, uh, main project was to save the sea turtles. But then, his focus, uh, was on the big garbage patches that are out in the oceans, these, sort of, giant, swirling masses of plastic floating at the top of the ocean. And he sort of painted this very negative...not negative, but a realistic picture of the degradation of the physical environment. But then, he said at the same time that conditions in the environment are getting worse, technology and breakthroughs are happening, technologically and scientifically, that make it possible that we can actually address some of these problems. So, I wanted to, kind of, talk with both of you about some of those, sort of, boots on the ground, if you will, uh, projects that are happening at the park, in terms of making a difference.
[Sara] Great. Yeah. Um, so, a lot of what I focus on is energy conservation and management. Um. When I first started looking at energy consumption at the park, it was a lot of benchmarking, it was just making sure that, um, our performance and respect to laws, codes, and, uh, National Park Service performance standards were there, being measured and reported.
And then, the next step was to get, uh, employees on board, so employee participation and education, um.... We did kind of a fun incentive program where we were measuring each building and setting a standard and we, uh, kind of competed to see what...which building could, uh, consume the least energy possible. And there was just a little incentive there. So, it, you know, it kind of, like, got people, um, thinking and encouraging their co-workers and, like, "Hey, turn out the light and maybe we should put a sweater on instead of, you know, turning up the heat." So, um, once I, kind of, got people excited and interested in energy conservation, um, that was...that was such a good start because we had the...the buy-in.
And then, some more, um, technical stuff that, uh, I've done over the years where we've had energy audits to find, uh, low-hanging fruit that we could, uh, do right away with our budgets. And then, set out longer-term projects to improve our overall enfic... efficiency. So, that included a park-wide lighting retrofit where we, uh, worked with the utility company to go through and inventory all of our lighting and switch it out with more efficient lighting. And that was, uh, a huge savings and, um, and...in our annual utility bills, as well as our greenhouse gas emissions. So that was a really great project.
Um. I did want to say that as of July 2012, we are, um, 100% green energy with the Marin Clean Energy, um, Program. Uh, we, uh, joined as soon as we were able to. Um, so, we've been doing that for about a year and that...that was just a really great opportunity for the park to further demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.
And, um, as our visitors come in, they always comment on...on how much photovoltaic our solar, um, systems that we have in our park. We have 16 solar systems and we generate about 28% of our total, uh, annual energy consumption through solar. And next fiscal year, starting in October, we're getting funding to add sixt...six more to some of our more, um, energy intensive buildings.
[Marc] Do you know what that'll bring it up to?
[Sara] Uh, I think it will be, oh, about 35%, so...
[Marc] Pretty amazing.
[Sara] Yeah, it's...it's pretty exciting.
[Marc] Especially in the fog belt out here. [chuckles]
[Sara] Yeah, it is. And, then, um, you know, we don't do a lot of new construction at Point Reyes, but we, uh, have recently constructed the, uh, Point Reyes Youth Hostel building, and, um, that was a LEED-certified gold building. So, lots of sustainable building practices and design practice implemented on that project. So...
[Marc] I had, uh, Gordon White, uh, on the...on the program before. Also Hannah Doress.
[Sara] Uh huh.
[Marc] And we were talking about how so many of the buildings in the park are just being retrofitted rather than being torn down.
[Marc] I'm on, uh,...Dewey Livingston, the local historian, is training some...some of us to do historic guides of Point Reyes Station. And he was saying in the old days, they never tore down a building. You just took it apart and used the wood to build another building
[Sara] Yeah, I...in one of my trainings on sustainable building management, I...they quoted someone, and I don't...I can't attribute this to the correct person, but they said the greenest building is the building that's already built. So we've really, kind of, embraced that philosophy in the Park Service. Um...because of our dedication to susainability, uh, sustainability and also our budget constraints that...most of our offices our old 1940s ranch...ranch houses, which is great, because you don't have to build something new. And then, there are challenges that come along with trying to heat a, uh, a building from the 1940s in the winter. So we're addressing those ...those challenges.
[Marc] Never mind barns.
[Marc and Sara chuckle]
[Marc] Fantastic. And Dale, do you want to talk about one of the projects that you covered?
[Dale] Yeah. So, you know, with Sara's efforts, um, I...I guess, I sort of oversee, um, some of our, um, or, well, our numerous recycling, as well as our composting, operations at the park. Um...I'd like to say that, you know, we probably recycle...and compost nearly everything, um, you could think of, uh, perhaps, except, you know, the dreaded Styrofoam. [chuckles]
[Sara] We still haven't found a good way to get rid of our Styrofoam, so, if anyone knows of any way to do that, um, please hit us up. We'll give our contact information.
[Dale] Yeah, I think the main issue is the, uh, Styrofoam blocks, but, um, we figured out, uh, that we could just compost the, uh, compostable peanuts, which we are starting to see now in packaging, uh, these days, which helps. Um, but we also recycle, uh, the plastic packaging, like bubble wrap, um, and...and, uh, you know, those plastic, inflatable, um, pillows that are added in boxes.
And, um, a lot of our recycling efforts, um, wouldn't have been done without, um, you know, our partnership with Conservation Corps North Bay, uh, that come out to the park, uh, weekly to pick up all of our recyclables. Um, as well as a North Bay corporation who picks up our, um, paper and cardboard.
Um, we also recycle, um, electronic waste. So almost anything you can think of that...that you plug in or has a circuit board or has wiring. Um...and it's...it's pretty robust here at Point Reyes. Um, probably, well we started this, like last year, um, where we hosted, um, a couple of, um, community e-waste drives, um, you know, for the local community and for anyone visiting the park, um, you know, to...to let them bring, um, any electronics, um, you know televisions, printers, i...iPods, [laughs] anything, uh, that you can think of. And, um, we had those during Earth Day and also on America Recycles Day, which happens on every November 15. And, uh, you know, we look to c...you know, to carry on that tradition. And, actually, this past Earth Day, um, we actually worked with a local, um, KWMR, uh, person, Madeline Hope, who...
[Dale] who talks about waste aversion a lot and who spearheads a bunch of efforts there. Um, and, uh, we partnered with her, um, well, we kind of ran into her, um, during our e-waste drive and, uh, you know, helped her to recycle, um, a bunch of the televisions from the community. Um, so, yeah, it was a good experience and, you know, we...we look to continue that here on out.
[Marc] And that's a great service to the community. I mean that's...so anyone could come and bring their electronic waste?
[Dale] Yeah, when we [cross talk] when we make that event happen, then we'll...we'll... we'll put an announcement out. So, um, yeah, definitely. Um, and also, we try to promote zero waste, um, at some of our, uh, you know, park events, um, that we...that we hold every year. Um, uh, every year, the staff puts on a, um, a breakfast, um, uh, for...for the entire staff. And, uh, we try to, you know, we use, um, reusable, uh, you know, utensils and...and just, you know, regular plates. We...we, uh, borrow the...those, uh, things from the West Marin, uh, Event Library.
[Dale] And, uh, yeah, that's a great service, um, for us, and, uh, it definitely cuts down on our...our waste efforts here. Um. And every year we also put on a...a picnic, um, to honor our volunteers and their efforts. Um. We're actually having that event this Friday. Um. And, uh, since, you know, two years ago, um, we were able to, um, accomplish a zero-waste event by, um, simply just putting out compostable bins and recycling bins, uh, to catch, uh, you know, the...the waste. And we didn't put any landfill bins out there and, um, you know, with...with, uh, support and help from our friends down at Golden Gate, we were able to compost, um, uh, you know, the amount that was generated by 400 guests. And, um...
[Dale] you know, recycling through Conservation Corps. Um, and we look to make that a tradition every year now and just announce that to...to the...uh...to the...to the guests. And, also, we encourage, um, our guests to bring a, um, you know, a plate...
[Marc] Keep going.
[Dale] for use. So...
[Marc] Sor...sorry, Dale. I'm gesturing to the clock because it's almost 6 o'clock and I need to let listeners know that they are listening to community radio KWMR, where we broadcast. 90.5 FM from Point Reyes Station, 89.9 from Bolinas. Live and archived on the world wide web at kwmr.org. It's Epicenter. My name is Mark Matheson. I'm your guest host this afternoon and my guests are Sara Hammond and Dale Dualan, both of whom are with the sustainability efforts at Point Reyes National Seashore. We'll be right back with, uh, that conversation.
But I also want to let you know that KWMR is supported by Heidrun Meadery, producing naturally sparkling, Brut dry varietal honey wines, using the traditional Méthode champenoise since 1997. The Meadery has recently resumed production at its new facility in Point Reyes Station. Heidrun Meads are available at local wine retailers, now, and opening to the public soon.
KWMR is supported by Hear So Good, offering hearing testing and hearing aids on the Miracle Mile in San Rafael. Locally owned and operated by Doctor of Audiology and former engineer, Lee Weissman. Evening and weekend appointments are available. Information at 415-456-4327 or online at hearsogood.com. That's h e a r s o good.com. Now, back to our conversation. I'm sort of, rather rudely, interrupted Dale as he was talking about the compost re[unintelligible] program and I...I wanted to follow up with a question.
[Dale] Oh yeah, sure.
[Marc] So, I was at that volunteer appreciation picnic last year at the park and I was...and I kind of stuck around until the...everything was all done. And I was stunned that there was no garbage being hauled away; it was all compost. And you just said, were there four hundred people there.?
[Dale] Yeah, typically, uh, 400 plus guests.
[Marc] That's amazing to have all of that composted. It's really very cool.
[Dale] Yeah, it, uh, I mean, it's a total team effort and, um, it's...it's great that, you know, we plan something like this ahead of time. And everybody is aware of what can go in and...or what goes in and, um, what...what we do recycle and we practically recycle almost everything, uh, that we, well, we make sure that all our supplies and, um, all of the equipment that we, uh, you know, we bring, everything is, um, you know, for...for this effort, you know, recyclable and compostable.
[Marc] Right, right. And then does that...the compost goes to, uh, the...the composting place over the hill or does it stay in the park?
[Dale] Uh, it does go over the hill, I guess, [chuckles] in a way. Um, well, we get, uh, support and help from our friends down at Golden Gate...um...who, you know, you know, as you know, probably, in San Francisco, they have, um, a pretty sound...a...composting and recycling program down there. And, um, you know, we...we work with them to...to help get our compost, um, diverted there.
[Marc] And then, does any of the mulch or compost come back into the park?
[Dale] So that way...the way the program works down there, it's through the waste, um, management, uh, group, uh, Recology, and, uh, all that stuff does come back as a, you know, as a mulch that's available. So, you do have that dinner plate to dinner plate, um, uh, you know, kind of sense here. So...
[Marc] Nice Thank you, Dale. And then I wan...uh...come back and just kind of give listeners a little bit of an overview. So, Sara Hammond and Dale Dualan, both of my, uh, guests this afternoon here on Epicenter, are engineering technicians and stu…sustainability coordinators for the park, for the National Seashore. And at the top of the hour, Sara highlighted, sort of, the five wheels of their sustainability effort, which include energy management and conservation, water management and conservation, alternative transportation projects, sustainability outreach and education, and composting and other waste diversion projects. Dale's just talked about waste diversion and composting and Sara talked earlier about energy management and conservation. And, Sara, I wonder if you could talk to our listeners a little bit about water management and what goes on there in the park and your sustainability efforts?
[Sara] Sure, so, uh, a couple of years ago, we did a water audit, um, throughout our park and we inventoried all of our faucets and aerators and showerheads in the park, and we change them all to, uh, low-flow fixtures. And, uh, we also have longer-term plans of replacing, uh, toilets and urinals to, uh, low-flow and waterless urinals upon failure. It didn't make sense for us to pull out a, um, a perfectly fine, but maybe not-so-super-efficient fixture and replace it. Uh, didn't make sense as far as waste diversion and our budget, so, um, yeah, that's a longer-term plan. And a couple of years ago, about three years ago, we stopped in...irrigating any of our landscape. Um, we were only irrigating around our main admin building on, uh, Bear Valley Road, and, you know, we...it's just one of those things, a great opportunity to stop and say, "Why are we doing this? What...does this make sense? Yes, we've always done it this way, but does anyone really care that the grass isn't emerald green?" And, so, we said, "No." And then we changed our operations and it's just really cool when you have, um, uh, you're working with a team of people that are open to ideas like that. And I really think that's been the key to our success at Point Reyes is that we are in this beautiful area where people are super conscientious about sustainability, environmental management. And you're working with people who have open minds that say, "This might take a little bit more...more work. It might take a little bit more money, but it's the right thing to do."
[Marc] And, in the long run, don't you save money?
[Sara] Oh, absolutely. Uh, w...yeah, I would say with about 90% of our projects, we're seeing money come back, and that helps funnel...helps fund, um, future projects. So, it's this, kind of, sustainable wheel of [chuckles] funding, if you will.
[Marc] And then, I'm curious, um, I think a lot of local people don't know where their water comes from. But the park shares the same water that most of our local area here around Point Reyes Station.
[Marc] Is it the same water?
[Sara] Yeah, exactly. We purchase water from, um, uh, I beli...I believe it's North Marin Water Agency for our admin area and a couple of our residences around admin area, but, yes, you're cor...exactly correct. We have well systems, uh, for ranching, our concessionaires, and a lot of our services and facilities throughout the park.
[Marc] Nice. And then, uh, Dale, you also work on outreach and education.
[Marc] What...what sort of efforts are going on there?
[Dale] Yeah, definitely, um, education and outreach is, you know, a huge part, uh, of our program. Uh, it's a bug...a big part of the overall parks program, you know. We want to, um, you know, share...share our experiences and...and what we're accomplishing, uh, with th...with the public and...and other...other national parks, um, uh, other groups out there that are spearheading, um, these types of efforts.
And, um, you know, we're...we're, uh, getting involved in, you know, a bunch of different ways, whether through, uh, you know, social media, uh, we get...we go out to local, um, tabling and outreach events, uh, such as, you know, the...the Inverness Fair that happens every year, um, uh, EcoFair Marin in San Rafael, or Earth Day Marin. Um, you know, it's...it's an overall a...a great time and opportunity for us to...to kind of share that...that message, that sustainability message, uh, that, you know, is the mission of the Park Service. And, um, you know, to...to share...share, uh, those experiences. It's...it's...it's a great opportunity.
Um, we also, uh, develop a newsletter, uh, that, you know, just another avenue of...of, um, sharing...sharing our...and highlighting our accomplishments and our efforts and also, you know, some other sustainability plugs, um, other take-home messages that...that our staff, um, and...an others out there can take home. So...
[Marc] And, Dale, I know in...in preparing to interview you two, um, on today's show, I googled “Point Reyes National Seashore Sustainability” and came up with this great multimedia presentation that I mentioned to you earlier...
[Marc] on your website, uh, "The Natural Laboratory: Sustainability at Point Reyes National Seashore." It's really quite wonderful podcast.
[Dale] Yes, that was, um, done by, uh, Daniel Strain. I think...he was a former intern here through, um, the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center. And, uh, he worked with us to develop that, uh, really great podcast. Um, and, you know, we...that's also posted on, I think, our YouTube page.
Um, and we also have been involved in other, uh, video projects, as well. We...we, uh, was it like two years ago, right? I think it was the, uh, it was called "The Green Wave by the Seashore." It was a, um, video contest that the National Park Service put out, um, to all parks to, uh, give them a chance to, you know, share...share what they're doing in their parks, all their green efforts, um, and...and put them in...in some type of video display, and, uh, you know, we had...we kind of had fun doing that [chuckles] with the magic of video editing and we had special effects. I think if you scroll down on that same page, uh, it's there. It features a, you know, a number of our staff. Uh, we had a great time, overall. Um, just a little rambunctious. It has a wizard in it, um...[chuckles] And, uh, you know, just, kind of, highlighting our efforts and, you know, in a different style that hopefully, you know, just can mix it up, mix up the flavor a little bit, and...and, uh, you know, hopefully some...some, you know, folks out there can find it appealing and educational, as well.
[Marc] Well, I think innovation is the key to the future. You know, we have to innovate and...and experiment. And I wanted to compliment you on th...on the whole page, the whole web page for the sustainability project at the park because it's very, uh, educational and informative.
[Marc] Lots of really lively links back and forth.
[Dale] But, definitely, a big part of that is, uh, through our, um, our interpretive, uh, rangers, and especially Chris Lish, uh, who's, uh, a park ranger, um, for the...for Point Reyes. And, uh, he maintains the site and he's also, um, you know, a big contributor to some of our, um, you know, climate change, um, ideas, um, and efforts. Um, so, you know, thanks a lot, now, to Chris.
[Marc] And then you mentioned a newsletter and I think I saw the newsletter on the site as well?
[Dale] Yeah, definitely. We work with him to post those and we make those available to the public. Uh, you know, again, it...it comes out quarterly. Uh, well, [chuckles] we try to at least, and, um, again, highlighting recent accomplishments, uh, you know, ways to be green at home, um, you know, monthly challenges, uh, you know, future, uh, webinar, events, meetings, um, future events that are happening. Um. And...and it lets us, uh, share those with other parks 'cause, uh, we were starting to see other parks, you know, replicate, kind of, the sa...similar efforts, and, um, you know, other parks out there are putting out newsletters, and, um, it's...it's...it's good stuff.
[Marc] And that's...that's actually a good segue into another question I had was: where is Point Reyes National Seashore in terms of the National Park Service sort? Is this the first Park that really began to address these sort of sustainability efforts? On the scale that you're doing?
[Sara] I think that, um, Point Reyes, uh, certainly is kind of in a small group of parks that, um, have dedicated staff and enthusiasm around sustainable operations. Uh, one park that does an amazing job is Zion National Park in southern Utah. As well as a lot of good stuff going on at the Grand Canyon and, uh, Golden Gate, um, National Recreation Area. Uh, some of the...like I mentioned, some of the larger parks have budgets to employ people that are solely focused on sustainability. But, it's amazing, um, when I'm reading about, um, projects that are going on in other parks in the Park Service, uh, in general, you'll see these tiny little parks pop up in the middle of, like, kind of super-conservative areas doing, like, really innovative cool stuff that inspire us, you know, to...to keep on going. So, um, it's spreading, it's, uh....
The National Park Service Director, Jon Jarvis, um, climate change and sustainable operations is one of his biggest, um, uh, key, um...what am I trying to say? Um, priorities. So, um, he's always pushing for it. He's always advocating for it. So, it's...it's really, um, we're really stepping up our game.
[Marc] And sustainability is not really a political issue. I mean, really, we're talking about the planet and the life of human beings.
[Sara] Oh, I would agree with you 100%. I'm just...the rest of America might not. [chuckles]
[Marc] It's funny how a...most anything can get politicized.
[Marc] has nothing to do with it. And then, uh, Dale, I wanted to talk a little bit about your outreach and education efforts. So, are there ways that the public can get involved or? Ways that the public can learn more about the sustainability efforts at Point Reyes National Seashore?
[Dale] Um, I'd say, you know, in...I think I would just say, in general, for...especially those who, you know, are still trying to get a grasp of sustainability is, um, you know, to get outdoors, uh, and...and visit your national parks, 'cause you might be seeing those efforts in action or, you know, um, passively or proactively, uh, whether you see a solar panel on a roof or, um, you see, uh, or you're riding in an alternative, uh, alternatively fueled, uh, you know, bus system or something.
Um, you know, that's definitely, you know, one of the first steps is to, you know, visit these national parks and...and just, kind of, recron...reconnect, uh, you know, with nature and...and...and...and just, maybe, start pondering or asking yourself questions as...as you're, um, you know, doing things in everyday life and, uh, you know, learning about, uh, sustainable or environmental issues that are happening locally and globally. You know, visit the parks in your backyard and, um, you know, seeing, you know, what...what, um...what impacts, uh, can be brought upon that. So, um, you know, definitely, we're advocates of, you know, health and wellness and...and getting outdoors and...and, uh, you know, developing...reco...reconnecting with nature. So...
[Marc] Nice, nice. It's certainly healing. Certainly. Makes one feel alive. And how do you both feel about opening up the phone lines for callers to call in?
[Sara] That'd be great.
[Marc] Okay. So, if you're out there, dear listener, and you'd like to participate in this conversation about sustainability efforts at Point Reyes National Seashore, we have two phone lines you can call. Either 415-663-8492 or 415-663-8317. Feel free to give Sara Hammond or Dale Dualan a question about their efforts to bring sustainability out to Point Reyes. National Seashore. Again, 415-663-8492 or 415-663-8317.
And Sara, I know the, uh, fifth wheel that we haven't covered so far, as Dale just mentioned, at the alternative transportation projects. And I know, uh, I live in Inverness and periodically I see these, uh, RAV4s humming up and down, uh, the...the lane. I...
[Marc] what is...what goes...what goes on at the park in that area?
[Sara] So, we, um, were gifted, um, five, uh, 2000 Toyota all-electric RAV vehicles after they came off of lease, um, around 2005. And we use these vehicles a lot for field work, um, folks that are going out for day trips, you know, maybe they're going out to...you know, Abbotts Lagoon to do some field work, do some, um, botany inventory, and, uh, you know, it's just a really great vehicle for those small trips and it totally eliminates any kind of, um, pollution associated with a more traditional vehicle. So, we use those so much, it's amazing. And it was a wonderful gift from, uh, uh, like I said, Toyota. And we have a variety of, uh, hybrid vehicles, both sedans, um, that we will carpool for our meetings in the city or whatnot. And then, we have a couple of, uh, hybrid trucks here at the park.
We also have, um, kind of, a one-of-a-kind, biodis...biodiesel fueling system. It's a blending system where we have 1,000-gallon tank for conventional diesel; we have another thousand gallon tank for, um, 100% biodiesel. And the pump is just like any other pump that you would use at a gas station and it has buttons for a B5, a B...a B10, and a B15 blend. And the idea behind that is that we have lots of off-road equipment in various stages of disrepair. [laughs] Um, various y...years and you can, you know, with older equipment, you may not want to use, um, such high, um, bio-, uh, octane fuel, uh, whereas the newer ones have been built to handle B15 and B20. So, we wanted that, um, option to choose our...choose our own blend. So, in all of our off-road, heavy equipment, such as loaders, graders, backhoes, we're using, uh, biodiesel. Uh, I think it's, yeah, B15 to B20. And then, we also, in all of our heavy equipment and chainsaws and mowers and whatnot, we use bio-based lubricants. Um, and, so, that...we've been doing that for years and years with the bio-based lubricants. The biodiesel fueling system came online in 2007, so, um, that's a really neat thing that.... We're looking, also, to transition some more of our conventional die, uh, diesel vehicles over to biodiesel. And we purchased that, uh, um, within the local area. I think, uh, it's based out of, uh, Santa Rosa.
[Marc] The fuel itself?
[Sara] The fuel itself. Yeah, yeah.
[Marc] And do you have a percentage of how many vehicles, uh, or I don't know how you measure, benchmark...vehicle use, but do you have a sense...?
[Sara] Only...only about 20% of our vehicles are, um, but all of our off-road, um, equipment is biodiesel.
[Marc] That's pretty cool.
[Sara] Yeah, it's neat and another way that we work on green transportation is we organize ride shares and we rightsize our vehicles for, uh, the purpose. So, let's say, you know, for years we were doing something where it required three people to drive in a pickup. Well, maybe it's down to one person. Does it still make sense for a person to take a giant pickup into the field? Maybe they could, uh, do it with a sedan, or, uh, maybe they could even carpool to...to their field location. So, we're always thinking about that and, kind of, observing who's going out in these cars and how many people are in them.
And then, every year we, uh, we try to celebrate B...uh, Bike to Work Day, and, uh, we provide, um, incentives, usually in the form of food, to participants. And we get, you know, three or four or five, a handful of people that will participate. It's challenging where we live. Some people coming over the hill, that's a long ride, but, um, it's...it's a fun thing that we, um, that we get to do. And...
[Marc] Food is always a good incentive, if you're riding your bike.
[Sara] It is! Absolutely! And then a future project that we've been working on for a while is that we're looking for a sponsor for two public charging stations, um, public, um, uh, electric vehicle charging stations for the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Um, we, uh, have a little bit of conflict with the government paying for electricity to charge, um, public vehicles, so it's not something that we can just say, "Okay, we're gonna do it, find the funding, and do it." We have to find a sponsor. So, we are working with a non-profit That's looking to solicit. So far, um, no luck coming up with the money, but we're very hopeful that soon we'll have that service to our visitors.
[Marc] And, what about, um, Dale, you mentioned, uh, bu...buses, I think, or...or shuttles? There is...is there...are there hopes for an alternative fuel shuttle or...?
[Dale] Yeah. Yeah, I think that's been discussed in the past and, um, you know, it's...it's certainly an idea, um, that...that comes up every now and then, um, you know, we do have that shuttle service, uh, provided, uh, you know, for, you know, during whale watching season, um, elephant seal, uh, viewing season. Uh, but to expand beyond that and, uh, look at other ways to provide, you know, a service like that, um, you know, for, you know, for use, um, to get around the park, you know, that's...that is definitely been, I think, it's been studied and, I think, um, uh, you know, it still needs to be, you know, you know, planned and well thought-out and...and, um, you know, looked at again. Definitely.
[Marc] I know in the Presidio, in the city, there's a PresidiGo, a sort of, uh, shuttle service that the Presidio offers free for people who work and live within the Presidio. I don't know if it's, uh, alternative fuels or not.
[Sara] Hmm. That's something to look into.
[Marc] And, Sara, did I cut you off in terms of your talking about alternative fuels?
[Sara] Oh, no. No, that was it.
[Marc] And are there, uh, plans for other things other than what Dale just mentioned about a, uh, possibly a different, uh, within the park transportation?
[Sara] No, not any kind of immediate plans. I know that there's been discussion about, um, one day, um, possibly providing a shuttle service out to the lighthouse and back from Bear Valley Visitor Center. But other than, um, you know, just, kind of, ideas and thinking of innovative ways at meetings, brainstorming, I haven't heard of anything concrete. Um. A lot of our new programs and projects, like, that are of that magnitude, often come, um, from visitor requests, like, "Hey! This would be a great service if you offer that." So, um, it would be great to hear from people if that, uh, would benefit them and their...their visiting experience to have a shuttle, we'd love to hear about that.
[Marc] And, so, if folks wanted to give you some suggestions, they could call in right now at 415-663-8492 or 415-663-8317. But aside from phoning in to the radio show, are there other ways that listeners could participate or...or give you feedback or make suggestions?
[Sara] Oh, yeah, absolutely. Dale and I kind of have a...well, we do have an open-door policy, where, you know, if w...we can give our contact information out and email. And then, we have folks from the community that I've never met before that will come in and be, like, "Oh, I've been a Point Reyes Station resident for 30 years and I'm very interested in sustainability and here are my thought." And I love that. I love having conversations with locals that have...seen...that have been in here before the park was here. You know, that had these really great ideas about, um, sustainability in our operation.
So, we do have an open-door policy, but, um, my email address is just my name Sara, s a r a, and then, underscore Hammond, h a m m o n d, at n p s, for National Park Service, dot gov. And my phone number is, uh, area code 415-464-5165.
[Dale] I guess I'll give my contact here, too. Um, my email is, uh, Dale, d a l e underscore Dualan, d u a l a n at n p s dot g o v. And my phone number is area code 415-464-5286.
[Marc] And I'll chime in with your website, which is, uh, nps.gov/pore for Point Reyes National Seashore.
[Sara] Yeah, and, so, also some contact information, or just some tips, um, if folks want to watch our sustainability videos that we've made, uh, over the years, you can, uh, just google, um, Point Reyes, um, probably in YouTube and our videos will come up, maybe "Point Reyes sustainability." As well as, we have a Twitter, um, account that I try to keep updated...I'm not that...I need to set a reminder or something. But, um, that's just at N P...I think it's, poresustainable. So, that's how you'll find us.
[Marc] And what's the name of the YouTube channel?
[Sara] Ooh. Good Question.
[Dale] It might have been just, I think, an NPS YouTube channel that just, kind of, catches all, uh, a bunch of these videos. We did make a video for, uh, National Park Week, um, and the theme was, uh, "Picture Yourself at a National Park." And...and, so, um, you know, that's one of the...one of the channels that's available.
[Marc] Cool. And the YouTube, uh, the video you mentioned earlier is also on that same YouTube channel.
[Dale] I thought...it might be, but I know, um, uh, the Park Service, they created a mygreenparks dot gov website...um...and not sure if that's available to the public. Um. Uh. But, uh, they...there is a...there is a channel out there that...that hosts...that puts out all these green videos on there. Um, and I believe it's through that group, you know.
[Sara] It's a great opportunity to, um, learn more about what we're doing at Point Reyes in sustainable operations. But, like, I think, there's, like, 20 parks on there that are talking about sustainable operations so, you know, it's a good way to learn more about what the Park Service, at large, is doing.
[Marc] So, in a way, Point Reyes is leading, or has been helping to lead the way, in terms of Park, uh, Park Service-wide.
[Dale] Right. I think another way that people can get involved, um, you know, we...we as a...a kind of a tag team here, we...we...we work with, um, nearly everyone on staff, almost, because it's so interdisciplinary and, um, you know, folks who help out those, uh, you know, those certain disciplines, you know, in a way, we, kind of, work with them, as well.
Um, we collaborate with a, you know, a bunch of partners and, uh, you know one of our main partners, the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. Um. Uh, we also, um, have worked with them, um, first for some outreach, um, uh, projects. Uh, one in particular, the Point Reyes Trails Challenge. Uh, Sara and I get involved wi...with grant writing, a lot. It's one of our tasks to, you know, to help with innovation and, um, you know, getting involved with something like that, the Point Reyes Trails Challenge to, you know, give themselves an opportunity to get out and, um, you know, go hiking and...and promote health and wellness, um, with themselves and with others, um, it's...it's definitely an encouraging program.
Um, and we're looking for volunteers, um, for one of our, uh, trails day events happening on August 3, um, from 9:30 to 3:30 and we're meeting at the Bear Valley Trailhead to do some reservicing work on the trails, on Horse Trails. So....
[Marc] Wonderful, Dale. Sorry to cut you off, again. [chuckles]
[Dale] It's okay.
[Marc] We get to the end of the hour, here.
Uh, Epicenter, uh, with Dale Dualan and Sara Hammond from Point Reyes National Seashore. My name is Marc Matheson. Thanks so much for joining u...with us this afternoon. And stay tuned for, uh, West County Prowl with Jeff Manson, here on community radio KWMR.