Monocacy National Battlefield is participating in a nationwide program to reduce environmental impact and increase conservation activities in parks.
Parks across the country have applied for certification by creating climate action commitment plans to reduce emissions, educate the public, educate staff and generally reduce their impact on the environment.
Antietam National Battlefield, in
"We're attacking it three different ways: fuels, waste and electricity," he said.
The plans for Antietam include commitments to reduce energy use in buildings by replacing lighting with more efficient LED bulbs, reducing waste and changing landscaping plans.
"We're mowing less of the park now; we're letting more fields grow into meadows," Calzarette said.
'We should all do it'
Many of the same practices are already in place at Monocacy National Battlefield in
A three-dimensional map of the 1864 Battle of Monocacy, accompanied by a narration of the battle's events, sits atop a stand on the second floor of the visitor center.
When a visitor hits the play button, small dots of light shine through the map, showing the movements of Union troops across the rural land as they stalled Lt. Gen.
The exhibit was powered with 48 halogen bulbs that got so hot they would burn the wiring under the display, Monocacy National Battlefield Facilities Manager
In 2010, Kirkwood had the halogen bulbs replaced with LED lights, which connect to the top of the display with optical fibers.
Each LED bulb uses about 80 percent less energy than the halogen bulbs, according to Kirkwood.
Light fixtures in the visitor center's offices were also switched from fluorescent tubes to LED panels with a dimmer.
"I'm doing this stuff at home," Kirkwood said. "I think we should all do it."
Changing all the lighting in the park cost about
The visitor center was built in 2007 without much of an eye on sustainability or energy conservation, Monocacy National Battlefield Superintendent
Their efforts began with changing lights because they were "the low-hanging fruit," he said.
In 2009, park staff started to restore a historic building at the battlefield, the 18th-century
"Not wanting to gut and rebuild the building, we wanted to work with the historic fabric," he said.
A geothermal heating and cooling system was installed in the cellar, and the house's fireplaces were sealed off to keep energy costs down.
For each of the local members in the Climate Friendly Parks program -- Monocacy, Antietam, the
Emissions from purchased electricity and other sources are calculated by metric tons of carbon dioxide in the
Monocacy National Battlefield has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy use by 10 percent from 2008 to 2016.
In fiscal year 2011, total emissions from park operations, employee commuting and visitors at
About 16 percent of those emissions were generated by visitors.
"This is new ground for the Park Service," Poole said.
The project is supported by the
According to Poole, the
Park staff are also looking at solar and geothermal systems, but with the mountain almost completely forested, solar might not be a viable option.
"Our long-term goal, just like everybody else, is to just completely get off the grid as much as we can," Poole said.
At Monocacy, solar panels are the pie in the sky, Slade said. Park staff are considering installing solar panels atop the visitor center's green roof, but funding will have to be determined.
In the meantime, Slade said he'd like to put up signs around the park to educate visitors about the changes they're making. A sign near some of the battlefield's open green spaces would explain why the grass is a little higher than usual -- and that mowing generates emissions that are harmful to the environment.
"It's about an overall information campaign for the public, for them to know we take climate change seriously," Slade said.
"As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating," the report states.
'This is the time'
For environmental stewards such as the
"Things are going to change in the environment all the time," Calzarette said. "Whether you can pit it to climate change is a little tougher."
Calzarette said what's most important is getting information out about how to preserve and understand the environment.
Each of the local parks in the Climate Friendly Parks program plans to educate staff and visitors.
"The sooner we begin taking meaningful adaptation action, the more successful these efforts will be," the report states.
As one of those environmental stewards, Slade agrees.
"This is the time to make the change," he said.
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