Earlier this year, the National Parks Conservation Association released a study titled, "How America is Failing to Protect Our National Parks, People and the Planet from Air Pollution." News article after news article followed, reporting that 96 percent of parks have hazardous air quality.
"If we don't take immediate action to combat this, the results will be devastating & irreversible," NPCA wrote on Twitter.
Action will be multi-pronged, but for starters, the National Park Service (NPS) has ramped up sustainability efforts with water refill stations, low-flow toilets, LED lighting, and now, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
The NPS is partnering with the National Park Foundation, BMW of North America and the U.S. Department of Energy to install 100 EV charging ports in and around at least 13 National Parks and recreation areas.
"We know that people are creatures of convenience and habit," the NPS wrote. "Adding new EV charging ports in these places helps link people to parks in a different way and increases the likelihood of EV drivers driving longer distances and finding a more convenient way to make their outdoor recreation plans a reality."
Vehicles are one of the major contributors to the pollution in National Parks, according to the study. And traffic congestion is rampant in the parks, as visitors flock for the treasured landscapes. The hope is that expanding EV access will also minimize greenhouse gas contributions and reduce cars' overall carbon footprint.
"The automobile has long been central to the great American vacation in national parks," the NPS wrote. "While our treasured landscapes offer familiar vistas time after time, the automobile has changed greatly, and parks want to meet the needs of visitors who use electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Through this joint effort, electric vehicle drivers will have more places to charge the car while recharging themselves with nature and parks."
Charging stations will be installed in the following 13 sites: