As part of the nationwide effort detailed in the recent launch of the National Park Service 'Green Parks Plan,' Vicksburg National Military Park is making a concerted effort to reduce its carbon footprint. The park is preparing to replace the outdated lighting fixtures in the parking lots at the main Visitor Center on Clay Street and the USS Cairo Museum with new solar-powered lights that will ultimately reduce overall energy consumption and lower the park's impact on the environment.
One of VNMP's main goals is providing the most positive visitor experience possible, which includes enhanced visitor services and safety. Recommended as a Best Management Practice in a 2011 energy audit, the new solar lighting fixtures will significantly lower the park's energy consumption and maintenance levels, while also providing improved visitor and staff security. Additionally, the lighting project will provide the opportunity for interpretive staff to educate the public on the benefits of renewable energy, enhancing both visitor services and the positive perception of VNMP as an eco-friendly park.
The NPS has adopted the position that it will pursue sustainability in all of its projects. The 2006 Management Polices read "Park facilities and operations of all sizes will demonstrate environmental leadership by incorporating sustainable practices to the maximum extent practicable in planning, design, siting, construction, and maintenance." One of the fundamental tenets of sustainability is the efficient use of energy. Without this efficiency, projects cannot be sustainable.
Funding for the lighting project was awarded through the NPS Recreational Fee Demonstration program, specifically using monies collected at VNMP through user-generated fees, and allowing the park toreplace the existing 20+-year-old lighting fixtures withnine solar-powered pole units and six walkway lights.When completed this project will result in immediate energy savings through reduction of utility costs while providing the environmentally conscious-minded visitors with an enhanced experience and promote solar power as an alternative energy source in keeping with the ideals of the NPS 'Green Parks Plan.'