When federal land managers assess greenhouse gas emissions on national
wildlife refuges, national parks and other government-owned terrain, they
generally dont factor in visitor transportation.
Managers routinely include facility energy emissions and employee vehicle emissions.
But not visitor transportation emissions. Until now.
The National Wildlife Refuge System, with the Federal Highway Administration
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Division of Engineering, has initiated a
greenhouse gas mitigation project called Climate Friendly Refuges. The project
recognizes that visitor transportation is a major contributor of federal lands
greenhouse gas emissions.
A centerpiece of the project is the Climate Leadership in Refuges (CLIR) calculation
tool, which can determine overall greenhouse gas emissions at individual refuges
and fish hatcheries. It was piloted on four refuges last year and will be rolled out
gradually in the eight Service regions, according to Service national transportation
program coordinator Steve Suder.
There will be a more widespread
rollout this fall, says Suder, to have
field stations preview CLIR, followed by
webinar sessions to answer questions.
CLIR assembles information that might be in different sources into one Excel
spreadsheet. Perhaps youve intuitively
thought about making changes to lower
your carbon footprint, but now CLIR
numerates that, says Suder. Youre able
to see what your impacts are and how you
might change them.
CLIR is designed for all field station staff,
not just project leaders, fleet managers or
maintenance workers. Suder hopes CLIR
will foster recognition of improvements
that everybody on a station might make,
whether its reducing their own travel
during their work hours or different
activities they might do to help lower
greenhouse gas emissions that CLIR can
Suder and the Division of Engineerings
Andrea McLaughlin believe CLIR could
help the Service reach carbon neutrality
by 2020, as mandated in the 2010 Climate
Change Strategic Plan.
So, does Graham Taylor, refuge manager
at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge,
MA, which hosted a CLIR pilotas did
Horicon Refuge, WI; Kenai Refuge, AK;
and St. Marks Refuge, FL.
The tool helps provide a direct
correlation, Taylor says of the carbonneutrality
goal. It gives us something
tangible to see were moving in the
CLIR is based on a National Park Service
tool called CLIP (Climate Leadership
in Parks). Both CLIP and CLIR allow a
user to calculate how changes in facilities
energy consumption (electricity, fuel
oil, natural gas, propane) and employee
vehicle fleet consumption (miles per
gallon; gasoline, diesel, biodiesel) would
affect a sites greenhouse gas emissions.
But, importantly, CLIR adds visitor
transportationto, from and on a refuge.
If you have an auto-tour route, with
100,000 or more people going out driving
every year, depending on how long it is,
that type of emissions is much, much
greater than what a facility puts off,
Suder says. CLIR could quantify how an
electric shuttle would reduce emissions.
Parker River Refuge, which is developing
its comprehensive conservation plan,
already finds CLIR worthwhile. The
timing for us was good to be able to blend
this into our CCP process, says Taylor.
Im sure the CLIR tool will be useful for
a lot of refuges, provided the data being
input are sound.
McLaughlin says CLIR can augment
the environmental management system
(EMS) planning tool in place at 66 Service
field stations, too.
Suder is excited about the crossdisciplinary
aspect of CLIR. The
pilot projects convened national-,
regional- and field-level employees of
divergent specialties: visitor services,
natural resources and biology, facilities
CLIR offers, Suder says, a nice way of
talking about real numbers, about real
possibilities for change, bringing people
together and then setting a direction for
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees
can learn more about the CLIR tool at