XANTERRA PARKS & RESORTS’ FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS: YELLOWSTONE GIFTS ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGN IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK RECEIVES NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD

Xanterra Parks & Resorts’ Yellowstone National Parks Lodges’ environmental initiative focused on educating visitors about the impacts of climate change and pollution in national parks has received the NPS 2010 Environmental Achievement Award.

This award recognizes federal agencies and their contractors – including concessioners – that have demonstrated exceptional achievements in the categories “Protection of ecosystems,” “Alternative energy use,” “Reduction of solid waste and petroleum use,” “Design of sustainable buildings” and “Climate-friendly innovations.”

The most prominent component of Xanterra’s environmental initiative is the park’s newest gift store – located in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and called “For Future Generations: Yellowstone Gifts.” The store emphasizes environmental impact through a sustainability scoring system the company developed and believes is the first of its kind for a retail operation.

Other components of the campaign include an innovative educational display for guest rooms with a plush animal toy, an educational brochure and a website on being a green guest in national parks. For employees, the “For Future Generations” campaign extends to training and awareness programs as well.

Conceived, designed and operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the store opened in 2009. Xanterra converted an existing gift shop in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel into an interpretive facility dedicated to informing park visitors about climate change and offering environmentally friendly products.

“Showing how factors like climate change affect the plant life and wildlife in our parks helps visitors to understand how our environmental choices affect the whole planet,” said Beth Pratt, director of environmental affairs for Xanterra’s Yellowstone operations. “If we can inspire our guests to take steps to lessen environmental impacts in our parks, they are much more likely to do the same in their everyday lives.”

Materials used in the remodeling of the store were reclaimed, recycled or sourced from sustainable operations. Shelving was constructed out of reclaimed wood, some of it from buildings in the park, including flooring from the Old Faithful Inn and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Lighting comes from energy-efficient, minimum-impact LED (Light-Emitting Diodes) bulbs.

Displays include information on the threats climate change poses to our national parks, what the various entities in the park are doing to minimize their environmental impacts and what techniques visitors can use at home.

Products in the facility are accompanied by “sustainability scorecards” that provide comprehensive information on the impact the retail items have on the environment. This transparency allows consumers to better quantify the product’s environmental impact and to make informed choices when purchasing items. Each product scorecard score measures the sustainable practice of the company and environmental attributes of the product.

In addition to the product attributes and product origination information, the scorecard rates the product’s environmental impact on a scale of one to 10. The scorecards also include additional information about the product’s manufacturer.

Xanterra’s environmental program in Yellowstone, called Ecologix, is widespread. Last year the company diverted 73 percent of its solid waste from landfills into other areas such as recycling, reusing and composting. Over the past nine years Xanterra has reduced its overall energy use by 14 percent and its water usage by 25 percent.

For more information on Xanterra’s environmental initiatives in Yellowstone, visit www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/Future-Generations-5655.html.

General reservations for accommodations, tours and activities can be made by calling Xanterra’s Yellowstone reservations at 307-344-7311, toll-free at 866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375).