Do you like to fish for trout in the pristine waters of the Northern Rockies? Do you hunt for elk in the region’s vast wilderness areas? Are you a snowboarder or a skier? Do you enjoy viewing the glaciers in Glacier National Park or watching the grizzly bears in Yellowstone? Are you a farmer or rancher? Do you use electricity, drink water, or eat food?
Did you answer yes to at least one of the questions above? (I hope so!) Then climate change probably is or probably will have an impact on your life in the Greater Yellowstone Region.
As the Director of Environmental Affairs for Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone, my job is to inspire our employees and guests to lead more sustainable lives. My approach has been to try and connect the dots between recycling an aluminum can and helping to ensure the grizzly bear remains in the park for the visitors of the future. Educating about how climate change will alter the landscapes we love provides a very compelling impetus for people and businesses to adopt sustainable practices.
Climate change is happening now and is already transforming our home.
Glaciers are predicted to vanish from Glacier National Park by 2020. Compared to the 20th century, the average temperature in the west has increased by 1.7F (70% more than the rest of the world!). The growing season in some parts of the region has been increased by two weeks. Peak runoff from snowmelt is occurring 10-20 days earlier and as 70 percent of the water supply in the western United States is derived from melting snow, a reduced snow pack can initiate a chain reaction that reverberates across the region. A drier climate has consequences for a wide range of flora and fauna — everything from invasive plant establishments, to elk foraging patterns, to the health of hibernating grizzly bears, to the survival of native trout.
The issues may seem overwhelming, but in my opinion the solutions are not difficult and they revolve around focusing on the one concept that transcends political divisions and philosophical differences—our sense of place. We all love the Greater Yellowstone Region. We all love our home. We all want to preserve our home for our children or our grandchildren.
And sustainability is the foil to climate change. Decreasing our impact on this planet by leading more sustainable lifestyles helps us protect this landscape that we love.
I have been teaching for the Yellowstone Business Partnership’s UnCommon Sense program for over three years and for a diverse group of businesses. And despite the differences in backgrounds, I’ve been impressed with each member’s commitment to greening their business, not out of political motivations, or because they are radical environmentalists or climate hawks, but because each cherishes the magnificence of this place.
The motivation for sustainability is easy when you remember that driving less or using energy efficient appliances will help to ensure that anglers can still fish for native trout or skiers enjoy the snowy slopes in the Greater Yellowstone region.
Sustainability is truly about preserving our home.
Join YBP’s sixth UnCommon Sense class and partner with regional businesses to become more sustainable in all aspects of your operations. UnCommon Sense is YBP’s business sustainability leadership program, with a proven track record for helping businesses save money, engage and energize employees, and enhance and communicate their “green credentials”. A series of workshops over two years in conjunction with back-home implementation enables businesses to achieve measurable goals. UnCommon Sense is a great way for your business to tackle the often overwhelming topic of sustainability, and offers group and one-on-one support tailored to your specific business needs.
Application period is open through Tuesday, March 15th. Only 20 businesses will be accepted into our next class, starting with an April 28 -30, 2011 workshop. To apply for UnCommon Sense or for more information please contact Heather Higinbotham at (406) 600-6617 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the YBP website.
PO Box 7337 Bozeman, MT 59771-7337
The Trumpeter Swan is the largest North American waterfowl, can live a long time – over 24 years, and usually mate for life. They breed in freshwater marshes and along ponds and lakes, and they winter in lakes, streams, springs, rivers, and reservoirs, such as at Sage Flat in Harriman State Park, Idaho.
2012 UCS class graduate Pete Strom estimates their improved recycling system resulted in a 40% reduction in waste going to landfill during the summer and 50-75% in the winter.
Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents.
Livability is a concept and national movement based on the aspirations of communities to improve the quality of life and sense of place in urban, suburban and rural environments. Scenic byways can serve as a means to create more livable corridors to safely enjoy and access vibrant communities.
YBP believes that the long-term profitability of a business is best ensured when it pays as much attention to its community and environmental impacts as to its financial performance.