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Yellowstone Installs Eco-Friendly Pavement

Monday, October 24, 2016

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When replacing aging asphalt in the eco-sensitive Yellowstone Geyser Basin, Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park turned to an innovative, porous paving material that is manufactured in part from recycled tires.

The park has the world’s largest concentration of geysers and thermal features, so the improvements promise to help reduce run-off and erosion in the eco-sensitive area.

Old Faithful
Jim Peaco / National Park Service

Yellowstone's new walkways create more natural water patterns that eventually replenish the Yellowstone Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is located.

“Yellowstone is the world's first national park with nearly 150 years of balancing the protection of natural wonders and sharing them with visitors,” said Lynn Chan, a landscape architect for the National Park Service and lead on sustainability at Yellowstone National Park. “It is important to us to rehabilitate the park's walkways with materials that can help protect this sensitive environment yet still allow visitors to see and appreciate it.”

Porous Surface

According to a recent announcement, the project team recently installed a product called Flexi-Pave, developed by KBI Industries, for the trail system. The porous, durable and flexible surface allows the water from rain and snow to percolate through the walkway the way it would have done before the walkways were installed and in turn creates more natural water patterns that eventually replenish the Yellowstone Geyser Basin, which features Old Faithful, according to the project details.

path project
Screenshot / Michelin video

The new pathways are designed to evacuate up to 17.3 gallons of water per hour.

The material does not create significant storm-water runoff or leach pollutants into the soil, according to product information. It also does not break apart, which prevents material from ending up in geysers and hot springs.

Flexi-Pave is made of rubber granules and stone held together by a polymer binding agent that is inert when cured, according to its manufacturer. Its open-pore design enables fast evacuation of up to 4,000 cubic inches (17.3 gallons) of water per hour, the company says.

Donated Tires

Tire manufacturer Michelin also served as a partner on the project. Hundreds of tires that Michelin had previously donated for park vehicles were used to help create thousands of square feet of the trails.

The company descirbes the project in this short video.

“This project represents the model for collaboration between public and private organizations,” said Jeff Augustin, vice president of external partnerships at Yellowstone Park Foundation. “We hope that this eco-friendly park walkway will inspire other similar projects that help preserve natural systems.”

In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the United States' first national park and is the world's first national park. Yellowstone hosts around 4 million visitors each year.

   

Tagged categories: concrete; Environmentally friendly; Landscape architects; National Park Service; Permeability; Recycled building materials

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