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Sustainable Operations

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A Few Forest Service Green Team Success Stories

The Pike-San Isabel National Forest Pikes Peak Ranger District’s Green Team led the district’s reduction of water use by 22 percent, electricity use by 7 percent and its natural gas use by 26 percent.

The Greater Yellowstone Sustainable Operations Subcommittee was established to work towards implementing sustainable operations efforts across 14 million acres of public land in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Six National Forests, two National Parks and two U.S. Fish and Wildlife management units are represented on this committee. Initial areas of focus include expansion of propane cylinder recycling, fleet sharing and shared green purchasing.

The headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico is a historic building which is being restored and upgraded to achieve LEED certification. LEED is a certification program for buildings which achieve significant reductions in energy, water and other resource consumption as compared to standard building practices. The headquarters will be the first LEED-certified building in Puerto Rico.

The Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Center for Urban Forest Research has been testing and demonstrating a “sustainable garden” since 1999. This 1,000-square-foot garden is located outside the Center's entrance on land that was once a parking lot. The garden employs a variety of mechanisms that reduce water use and energy use and encourages the design of environmentally-friendly landscaping.

Region 5 and the Pacific Southwest Research Station established a ‘green’ microgrant program. The station funded seven microgrants, each at a maximum of $2,000. Region 5 funded 13 microgrants, each at a maximum of $1,500. Green microgrants are fairly modest Forest Service funds that are awarded to stimulate grassroots sustainable efforts on the ground. The microgrant approach enables Forest Service employees to decide which sustainable activities are needed most at their unit and apply for funding for those activities.

Six Rivers National Forest recycles paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic, glass, toner cartridges, and batteries at all of its ranger districts and the supervisor’s office. At the Smith River NRA Visitor Center, paper that has been printed on one side is cut to tablet size and the good side is used to take memos at the front desk.

Grey Towers National Historic Landmark negotiated an agreement with the U.S. Park Service to retain a Ford Thinkmobile on loan. The Thinkmobile is an electric four-passenger vehicle with no tailpipe emissions.

The International Forestry Green Team hosted a Sustainable Operations/Ecosystem Services Cap and Trade Game as a way for Forest Services employees to think about the types of activities they could implement to reduce their unit’s environmental footprint including biomass, energy, biofuels, etc.

Several teams have produced reports describing environmental footprint on a regional and local level. These include Region 2, Region 5 and the Pacific Southwest and the Pacific Northwest Research Stations. These reports have provided a guidepost for the development of the national environmental footprint. A national environmental footprint report for the Forest Service was just released on September 20, 2007.

Washington Office Headquarters Team installed a solar trash compactor at the southwest corner of its building. This is a high use/high trash collection area and the compactor is yielding significant collection savings as well as a plastics recycling opportunity. The team also purchased two additional compactors for USDA installation and use.

Last Modified: 08/05/2008