RALEIGH – Chimney Rock State Park has become North Carolina’s 70th tourist destination to earn recognition for its environmentally friendly practices, according to officials with the state’s NC GreenTravel Initiative.
“We’re proud of all the great North Carolina tourist spots that have earned recognition as NC GreenTravel destinations,” said John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR. “That one of our department’s very own state parks became the 70th place to earn this designation is the icing on the cake.”
Chimney Rock Management LLC, which operates the Chimney Rock component within the larger developing state park under a concession contract with state parks, earned its place among NC GreenTravel locations by installing public recycling containers, using locally-produced food in the park’s restaurant, reducing water usage, installing more energy-efficient lighting and appliances, removing invasive plants and increasing public environmental education effort.
NC GreenTravel, a DENR program launched in October 2011, recognizes tourism-oriented businesses for their accomplishments in environmental stewardship, including energy and water conservation, waste reduction, recycling and other practices that help protect the environment.
“Staff at Chimney Rock Management LLC and Chimney Rock State Park as a whole have made great strides in recent years when it comes to environmental sustainability,” said Lewis Ledford, director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. “They represent the complete commitment to stewardship found at all our state parks.”
In addition to lessening environmental impacts, research has shown that environmentally friendly businesses such as those in the NC GreenTravel program reduce operating costs and are more profitable without sacrificing guests’ comfort. NC GreenTravel businesses receive a certificate of recognition, a door decal and a listing on the NC GreenTravel website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/deao/ncgreentravel-about. For adhering to the program, businesses that are a part of or aspire to become a recognized NC GreenTravel business are eligible for free, non-regulatory environmental technical assistance. No cost is involved in applying to the NC GreenTravel Initiative.
While several other states have created programs to certify “green” hotels, North Carolina’s NC GreenTravel Initiative goes a step further by awarding special recognition to hotels, restaurants, museums, parks, attractions and other tourism-related businesses for environmental sustainability accomplishments. The program is a partnership of DENR’s Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service and its Waste Reduction Partners program, the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University; and the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development.
Consumers who are looking for green lodging, dining and travel experiences can find all the NC GreenTravel listings online by following this link: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/deao/ncgreentravel-consumers.