Through a donation by the Propane Education & Research Council, the Blue Ridge Parkway, a unit of the National Park Service, has furthered its sustainability initiatives.
“Clean, American propane is an ideal fuel for the large Parkway, thanks to its versatility. It’s portable and can be implemented across operations, easily creating a one-fuel solution,” said Roy Willis, PERC’s president and CEO. “Even more significantly, propane-powered equipment reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional fuels and costs less per gallon, saving on operating costs.”
PERC’s donation of propane-powered equipment totals more than $76,000 and includes three Ventrac compact tractor mowers with attachments and two Generac portable generators. The equipment not only advances Blue Ridge’s green profile, but it also furthers the National Park Service’s overall Green Parks Plan aimed at reducing energy consumption and mitigating effects of climate change.
The Ventrac compact tractor mowers and generators are not Blue Ridge’s first investment in propane-powered equipment. The Parkway also operates propane heating systems, portable heaters, forklifts, and four propane-autogas-powered pickup trucks.
“Through National Park Service directives, we have committed to making sustainable decisions and doing the right thing for the environment, and propane fits well into our initiative,” said Mark Woods, Blue Ridge Parkway’s superintendent. “We’re eager to get the equipment up and running.”
The sheer size of the Blue Ridge Parkway creates unique refueling obstacles, but propane’s portability provides logistical relief. Extra cylinders and the Generac generators are simple to transport from location to location, especially in the winter when remote buildings, cabins, and visitor centers are prone to power outages. Additionally, the Ventrac compact tractors were specially selected over zero-turns for their ability to multitask and for operator safety on the park’s hilly terrain.
“We must take into account four-season weather and elevation changes at the park, and both can make access and transportation of fuels difficult. Propane creates efficiencies in these changing environments, because it’s easily transported and accessed year round,” added Woods. “Propane’s flexibility simplifies our operations and creates many efficiencies.”
The Blue Ridge Parkway is the second national park to receive propane-powered equipment donations from PERC this year. Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky received a $62,000 donation of three John Deere zero-turn mowers, two Generac portable generators, and a CleanFuel USA propane dispenser.