LINVILLE — Grandfather Mountain has always been a place of preservation of nature and a gateway to the wonders of the Earth’s natural beauties. In striving to further communicate that message, Grandfather Mountain has decided to push forward with a 2018 Action Plan that further develops its budding green initiatives.

Working under this plan, Grandfather Mountain seeks to make changes to some facets of the park, including implementing new technologies, education and lifestyle changes to help them toward this goal.

The first category focuses on operational goals the park wants to change, items that include changing out old lightbulbs with LED lights, implementing motion sensors to turn on lights when they are needed and to turn off when unnecessary, using more compostable materials in the restaurant, and more in-depth items as well.

“In the future, we aim to have our small equipment (mowers, weed eaters, etc.) meet the California emission standards. These are the strictest standards in the country,” Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Amy Renfranz said.

The “Building Mindfulness” category addresses the park’s desire to “hope to inspire and motivate our staff to be energy and consumer conscious,” Renfranz said. The park also intends to “think local in as many ways possible: purchase of food, hiring employees, some retail and in contract services.”

In another area, Grandfather Mountain wants to address how it promotes its action plan and gets people to participate. Grandfather Mountain is moving toward releasing a new smartphone application within the next few months.

“We would like for certain pages on the app to highlight the mountain’s sustainability initiatives and to use the app as a platform to motivate guests to be more conservation-minded while on the mountain and at home,” Renfranz explained.

The mountain also plans on revising its marketing techniques by, “highlighting some of Grandfather’s sustainability efforts in interesting ways to our guests,” Renfranz added.

For instance, when a patron purchases ice cream at the park, the bowls are completely biodegradable. Grandfather plans on further promoting such initiatives and including more of these types of efforts.

The third category plans to bring two new educational programs to the mountain, as well as tweaks to school group requirements that are still being determined.

The park plans on hosting a National Energy Development Project, a project that focuses on teaching kids at all ages in a hands-on approach about the forms of energy, heat, light, motion, sound, nuclear energy and electrical energy, and that focuses on the scientific process, energy sources, electricity generation and more.

The park also plans to install a solar display stand near the Fudge Shop. The stand will provide information on the use of solar panels, how they work and the benefits that come with using them.

Under the fourth category, the park plans to address the structures of the park, which will include adding new recycling containers, stations to refill water bottles, a composting facility and adding new solar panels to the park.

The “charging station” point is there to serve as a reminder to the park to “consider sustainability whenever new construction occurs,” Renfranz said.

Lastly, the park intends to evaluate employee practices and mindsets to help enact change. During the busier season, the park understands that recycling is a longer process that takes extra steps than just throwing it away. The park plans to address this by “creating processes that are as easy as possible for employees to practice every day,” Renfranz said.

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