The staffs at Mount Rainier National Park and its concessionaire, Mount Rainier Guest Services, have implemented a number of programs and taken multiple steps to reduce the park’s environmental impact.
Among the major projects completed are an upgrade of the White River entrance solar-energy system and building a charging station for government electric cars.
There is active recycling at the park’s 99 staff housing units. The park also recycles aluminum, antifreeze, batteries and car tires from government vehicles and equipment. General recycling includes collecting cardboard, concrete, fluorescent lights, food waste (composted), glass, office paper products, plastic, toner cartridges and outdated computer equipment.
Last year, 73,480 pounds of compost material was collected. Conventional recycling efforts collected an additional 16,680 pounds in 2012.
The effort continues, with park crews working to rehabilitate the Nisqually Entrance Ranger Station to make it more energy-efficient and sustainable. Another project will rehab the electrical system at the Cougar Rock Ranger Station, including installing LED lights at the comfort station.
Beyond those efforts, the park has a number of other programs in place to recycle and reuse items.
In 2007, the “Helping the Homeless” program was started by Mount Rainier Guest Services. The lodging operator collects partially used amenities at the National Park Inn and the Paradise Inn and then donates them to the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Last year, 132 pounds of items were donated to the Rescue Mission.
Earlier this year, Guest Services launched a donation effort called Project 14,410. The idea was to donate one item for every 10 feet of Mount Rainier’s 14,411-foot total elevation. Items include blankets, bedding, clothing, cans of food, water, utensils, tools, furnishings and amenities. On March 25, the program met its goal. With such early success, the program continues with a new goal of going for a double summit.
Since 2008, Guest Services started selling its used cooking oil to General Biodiesel, a Seattle-based company. General Biodiesel takes the used cooking oil and converts it into biodiesel fuel. In 2012, 438 gallons were recycled, displacing more than 3,184 pounds of carbon dioxide.