Four new propane buses in April moved park visitors around the grounds of Mammoth Cave National Park as part of National Park Week activities. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-Clean Cities/National Park Initiative awarded $505,000 to Mammoth Cave for the purchase of high-efficiency vehicles — buses, pickups and an electric vehicle — to replace older models, acknowledging the park’s consistent green energy efforts.

Mammothcave_enews Forever Resorts bus drivers and a Mammoth Cave ranger prepare for the day. About 400,000 visitors tour Mammoth Cave every year; on a busy day, the propane buses, carrying visitors to remote cave entrances, can travel 400 miles in one day – all within the park. This year, Mammoth Cave received these four new propane buses via the DOE-Clean Cities/National Park Initiative. Credit” National Park Service

“The Clean Cities partnership is a great boost to the park and our staff,” said Park Superintendent Patrick Reed. “We have incorporated sustainable green practices into almost every facet of our operation. These new vehicles aid in our efforts to reduce emissions and lower the carbon footprint of the park and to show park visitors how, together, we can make a difference.”

The Clean Cities/National Park Initiative replaces older vehicles with new, more efficient ones that are less reliant on petroleum-based fuels such as gasoline and diesel. Mammoth Cave National Park already had a strong alternative fuel vehicle fleet, fueled by propane, ethanol, biodiesel, and electricity. The partnership with Clean Cities replaced four aging propane buses (three 1990 models and a 1977 model) with new ones, and also two gasoline pickup trucks with two propane picks, and one gasoline-powered golf cart with a new electric-powered GEM (Global Electric Motorcar) vehicle.

Mammoth Cave, officials said, was selected as one of the first National Park Service (NPS) areas to kick off the initiative because of its good track record with the past Clean Cities alternative fuel projects and its high visibility impact with park visitors. Forever Resorts, the park concessioner, also converted its bus fleet to propane. The partnership recognizes the park’s long collaborative history with the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, which was instrumental in the installation of an alternative-fuel filling station at the park.

“Alternative fuels and cleaner, more-efficient vehicles are a perfect complement to the park’s mission of preserving our national treasures and resources,” said Dennis A. Smith, DOE’s national Clean Cities director. “This initiative allows a larger audience to learn more about the energy and the environmental benefits of these vehicles.”

The initiative also educates the public about the benefits of alternative and renewable fuels as well as advanced technology vehicles. The park has marketed its vehicles with a “flowering flame” emblem to draw attention to alternative fuels. The “flowering flame” incorporates two elements representing the benefit of energy and the environment working together. A flower head of blue flame depicts alternative fuel; beneath the flowering flame, a green stem and leaf represent the agencies’ commitment to environmental protection.

The DOE-Clean Cities National Park interagency agreement allows up to $5 million each year to be used for demonstration projects that educate park visitors on the benefits of reducing dependence on petroleum, cutting greenhouse gases, and helping NPS ease traffic congestion. Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park will unveil their programs later this year.

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