Yosemite Gateway Partners hosted the first Sustainability Conference in Yosemite National Park December 8-10.  Yosemite provided a unique learning environment, as it is a place where sustainability has been practiced from the very beginning, long before becoming a national park in 1890.

Nearly 100 participants were in attendance to learn about some of the most concerning environmental impacts such as climate change, greenhouse gas reduction, water and energy conservation, waste stream reduction, environmentally preferable purchasing, and transportation.  The conference was designed to connect people so that they could learn from one another and take away hands-on tools and best practices to adopt for implementation at their organization.

Park Superintendent Don Neubacher welcomed participants to Yosemite and the conference.  He referenced Yosemite’s 2020 Strategic Vision “…we carry out our mission and core values, and is a call to action for every person that comes in contact with Yosemite National Park to model sustainability”.  This conference is the first of its kind in the National Parks and valuable since Yosemite inspires the world!

Dan Jensen, Delaware North’s President at Yosemite introduced GreenPath and provided a historical perspective which set the stage for the company’s approach and local initiatives.

Debbie Friedel, Director of Sustainability for Parks & Resorts introduced responsible purchasing and the importance of implementing an effective program. All purchasing decisions made upstream impact how waste is managed downstream.

Mark Gallagher, Delaware North’s Resource Manager at Yosemite, gave a presentation and tour focused on waste management in the park.  He provided real examples tested over time as well as lessons learned to achieve a diversion rate greater than 65%.

Anne Krick, Director of Brand Communications and Outdoor Exploration for North Face discussed the importance of sharing stories that are personal, empowering and inspirational. Visit the following video link and be inspired.

A variety of other speakers from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, North Face, PepsiCo, Sierra Business Council, Sierra Watershed Project, and UC Merced discussed their approach and offered suggestions to improve sustainability efforts.

Thank you to the Delaware North leadership and Environmental Managers from the region including Yosemite, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, and Tenaya Lodge, who were in attendance.  The conference provided a unique opportunity for these individuals to network, share information, and prepare for 2015.

Contact Deb Friedel if you are interested in attaining presentations or contact information from the conference.