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                                  Sustainable Jackson Hole
                Businesses and residents unite to keep mountain paradise “green”

Jackson, Wyoming – Jackson Hole occupies a rare position: Geographically one of the most
protected areas of the continental U.S., surrounded by Bridger Teton National Forest,
Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the National Elk Refuge, the area is a top draw
for tourism and year-round outdoor activities. That undisputed appeal holds a downside, though,
as the ―boomtown‖ growth attending the area’s spectacular combination of environment and
lifestyle threatens those very qualities. And the potentially devastating impact of climate change
on such assets as the area’s legendary snow conditions and abundant wildlife serve to raise the
eco-stakes. But help is on the way: Jackson Hole also attracts unusually active and
environmentally savvy residents, willing to work in a consolidated effort toward making their
Shangri-La something of a modern-day Utopia as well—a truly sustainable community.
          After attending a 2006 environmental conference in Aspen, Jackson Mayor Mark Barron
signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, taking up that organization’s ―think
globally, act locally‖ mission for the town. A first step of changing out the city’s incandescent
lightbulbs to energy-efficient ones resulted in a power savings that netted the city a $13,000
rebate from local power company—and major environmental player—Lower Valley Energy.
Jackson’s town government continues to coordinate environmental efforts with large local
organizations including Teton County Government, the Murie Center and Jackson Hole Mountain
Resort, and the town offers free bus service to encourage people to leave their rental cars at
motels and take the bus. Mayor Barron has commented that despite the town’s tiny ―carbon
footprint‖ in the greater scheme of U.S. cities participating in the mayors’ agreement, Jackson has
a unique opportunity to ―set an example for these millions of visitors.‖
          In another opportunity for change through education, the nonprofit Murie Center, an
interdisciplinary center on the historic Murie Ranch in Grand Teton National Park, sponsors
educational and outreach programs under its Teton Sustainability Project, including its core
annual event, the ECO-fair, part of the Center’s April Spring Earth Fair. In a similar program a
little earlier in the year, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) sponsors a Sustainable Slopes
Outreach Day every February to raise skiers’ awareness on climate change issues, resources
available, and what they can do to help.
          Ski areas nationally have become a force to reckon with toward fighting climate change,
and both JHMR and Grand Targhee Resort are partners in the National Ski Areas Association’s
now 7-year-old Sustainable Slopes program. Both resorts also are partners in the EPA’s Green
Power program, averting carbon emissions through windpower credits, biodiesel fuel, carpooling,
bus transportation and recycling, and the two ski areas’ extensive environmental programs
include participation in various reseeding and forest management efforts including the Whitebark
Pine Management Program. Grand Targhee also participates in the NSAA’s SWAG program,
which gathers old ski area uniforms to provide cold weather clothing for people in need, takes
part in a wolverine monitoring program and partners with Teton Valley Community Recycling.
One of the largest ski areas in North America with more than half a million annual visits, JHMR’s
award-winning efforts have gained the resort ―green‖ certification from the International Standards
Organization of Switzerland (ISO) and includes partnering with Lower Valley Energy and Jackson
Community Recycling.
          Like JHMR, Grand Teton Lodge Company is also ISO certified. The company, which has
operated lodging, restaurant, retail and activity facilities in Grand Teton National Park for over 50
years has created its ―Envision‖ program, which provides a comprehensive approach to
sustainability, including using green building materials and office products, offering organic,
natural and free-range food, wine and coffee products; selling ―green‖ retail in its shops; handling
its half-million pounds of laundry each year in a way that reduces chemical impact and water use;
and operating an eco-conscious marina. A member of the Green Hotels Association, Grand
Teton Lodge Company has also teamed with Lower Valley Energy and Bonneville Power to
purchase wind-generated electricity. Other local lodging ventures that have won recognition for
environmentally sensitive programs include Alpine House Inn and Spa, which among other
―green‖ efforts was the first lodging property in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem to offset 100%
of its electrical use by purchasing Pure Wyoming Wind Credits.
          But it’s not just the biggest players getting things done: In a concerted effort to produce
change in the way business is done in the Tetons, committed community members from
businesses of all sizes have worked together in a number of coordinated environmental efforts.
The program One Percent for the Tetons—a local chapter of One Percent for the Planet, which
was cofounded by part-time Jackson Hole resident and Patagonia founder and owner Yvon
Chouinard—provides a venue for participating businesses to give back to the environment by
committing one percent of revenue. An impressively comprehensive venture, Sustaining Jackson
Hole, a collaborative project of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit Charture
Institute and the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, pulled together a ―brain trust‖ of
community leaders to identify key areas that needed to be addressed and then go about forming
an ideal vision of a sustainable Jackson Hole, which included annual reports posted online.
          Perhaps the most coordinated large-scale business effort toward sustainable change,
gathering a wide variety of individual efforts under one community-active umbrella, is the Reduce,
Reuse, Recycle (RRR) Business Leaders initiative, a collaborative effort of Habitat for Humanity’s
ReStore, The Murie Center’s Teton Sustainability Project, Jackson Community Recycling and the
Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. The RRR Business Leaders Initiative is the third phase of
what began as the RRR Media Campaign, seeking to reach local residents and businesses
through multi-media advertising in an effort to promote a more environmentally savvy Jackson
Hole. The third phase includes a visible campaign highlighting local businesses making an effort
to reduce, reuse, and recycle in their daily operations. A number of related ongoing activities
planned in concert with the RRR Business Leaders Initiative beginning January 2007, include an
online survey to all Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce members regarding their ―three Rs‖
efforts, a kickoff ―Business over Breakfast‖ meeting sponsored by the Chamber, a free talk at the
Four Seasons Resort in Teton Village by author Jill Bamburg on the topic of ―Getting to Scale:
Growing Your Business Without Selling Out,: and the first of a series of Jackson Hole Chamber
Sustainable Business Practice Seminars.
          ―What we are doing is meant to add to the momentum towards sustainability that is
growing in the community,‖ said Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tim
O’Donoghue, who emphasizes the economic as well as environmental and community-oriented
advantages for businesses to go green. And with such active community involvement, even
without incandescent bulbs, Jackson Hole’s sustainable future seems very bright indeed.

Jackson Hole Online Resources:

Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce,
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Jackson Hole,
Town of Jackson, Wyoming,
The Murie Center Teton Sustainability Project,
The Charture Institute,
Jackson Community Recycling,
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort,
Lower Valley Energy,
Grand Teton Lodge Company,
National Ski Areas Association Sustainable Slopes and SWAG programs,
EPA Green Power,
Grand Targhee Resort,
Alpine House Inn and Spa,
One Percent for the Tetons,
Sustaining Jackson Hole,
Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative,
Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores,
Teton Valley Community Recycling,
Wolverine Foundation,