MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky.–()–Four new propane buses moved park visitors around the grounds of Mammoth Cave National Park today as part of National Park Week activities. The Department of Energy (DOE)-Clean Cities/National Park Initiative awarded $505,000 to Mammoth Cave for the purchase of high-efficiency vehicles – buses, pickups and an electric vehicle – to replace older models, acknowledging the park’s consistent green energy efforts.
“The Clean Cities partnership is a great boost to the park and our staff”
“The Clean Cities partnership is a great boost to the park and our staff,” said Park Superintendent Patrick Reed. “We have incorporated sustainable, green practices into almost every facet of our operation. These new vehicles aid in our efforts to reduce emissions and lower the carbon footprint of the park and to show park visitors how, together, we can make a difference.”
The Clean Cities/National Park Initiative replaces older vehicles with new, more efficient ones that are less reliant on petroleum based fuels like gasoline and diesel. Mammoth Cave National Park already had a strong alternative fuel vehicle fleet, fueled by propane, ethanol, bio-diesel, and electricity. The partnership with Clean Cities replaced four aging propane buses (three 1990 models and a 1977 model) with new ones, and also two gasoline pickup trucks with two propane pickups, and one gasoline-powered golf cart with a new electric powered GEM (Global Electric Motorcar) vehicle.
Mammoth Cave was selected as one of the first National Park Service (NPS) areas to kick off the Initiative because of its good track record with past Clean Cities alternative fuel projects and its high visibility impact with park visitors. Forever Resorts, the park concessioner, also converted its bus fleet to propane. The partnership recognizes the park’s long collaborative history with the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, which was instrumental in the installation of an alternative-fuel filling station at the park.
Equally important, the Initiative educates the public about the benefits of alternative and renewable fuels and advanced vehicle technologies. The park has marked its vehicles with a “flowering flame” emblem to draw attention to alternative fuels. The “flowering flame” incorporates two elements representing the benefit of energy and environment working together. A flower head of blue flame depicts alternative fuel; beneath the flowering flame, a green stem and leaf represent the agencies’ commitment to environmental protection.
“Alternative fuels and cleaner more-efficient vehicles are a perfect complement to the park’s mission of preserving our national treasures and resources. This Initiative allows a larger audience to learn more about the energy and environmental benefits of these vehicles,” said Dennis A. Smith, DOE’s National Clean Cities Director.
“With our high visitation, Mammoth Cave is a perfect place for a demonstration project like this,” said Reed. “Mammoth Cave is a mammoth cave with several outlying cave entrances. Each year, approximately 175,000 visitors ride a bus as part of their cave tour; visitors enter and exit the cave at various locations and walk up to five miles underground. On a busy summer day, buses travel more than 400 miles within the park. Using propane instead of gasoline greatly reduces emissions and the park’s carbon footprint and park visitors get a better understanding of how alternative fuels can reduce the country’s dependence on oil.”
In 2010, DOE-Clean Cities and the NPS signed a five-year interagency agreement to create the Initiative. This new pact complements the NPS Climate Friendly Parks program, and enables the partnership to support transportation-related projects that use renewable and alternative fuels, electric drive and advanced vehicles, and fuel-saving measures. The initiative also works to support efforts outlined in the NPS Green Parks Plan.
“We are mandated by Congress to protect, preserve and improve the park environment,” added Reed. “We have a relatively small fleet and the change in emissions won’t single handedly solve the region’s energy and air quality problems, but we have the opportunity to influence millions of park visitors as we lead by example.”
The DOE-Clean Cities National Park interagency agreement allows up to $5 million each year to be used for demonstration projects that educate park visitors on the benefits of reducing dependence on petroleum, cutting greenhouse gases, and helping NPS ease traffic congestion. Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park will unveil their programs later this year.