Tread Lightly – Our Planet
“The total freedom and solitude of the wilderness is embossed into the human spirit. Our own passion for freedom echoes the natural world, its unbridled beauty, enduring reality, and its ever-changing presence. The preservation of wild places is imperative to our connection with our deeper selves. The human spirit, whether in melancholy or in exhultation, NEEDS the natural world, the freedom of the wilderness.” – Carl Donohue, Expeditions Alaska.
On a planet with 7 billion people, it’s impossible to emphasize enough how important our efforts toward conservation and sustainability are. This involves attention to both the larger and the smaller detail; minimizing our consumptive footprint, packing out waste and trash, following sound Leave No Trace wilderness travel ethics, supporting local business and respecting responsible wildlife viewing protocols.
On a larger scale, as an ardent opponent of unmitigated extractive resource development, Expeditions Alaska has tirelessly engaged issues like the ongoing efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and the excruciatingly reckless plans for the open-pit Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay. Think globally, act locally and tread lightly is not just a catchphrase.
We make every effort to be good and caring stewards of the wilderness through which we trek.
Green – Gold Certified
I’ve worked closely with Adventure Green Alaska to meet specific standards of economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Sustainable tourism is important to all of us, and I’m proud that Expeditions Alaska is certified at the Gold Level with AGA, and today stands among the leaders in the Alaska tourism industry.
I’ve also recently started offering a system to help offset our carbon footprint, through donations to Native Energy, a program designed to help finance the construction of wind, biogas, solar, and other carbon reducing projects with strong social and environmental benefits. Native Energy provides essential funding to over 50 community-based initiatives—our customers have brought renewable energy to schools, methane digesters to family farms, and even helped build the first large scale Native American-owned wind turbine in the U.S.
In consideration of the carbon emissions and environmental impact that come with your Alaska Expedition, I urge you to support the renewable energy projects and help offset the impact of our travel. Renewable Energy is becoming an ever increasing part of local Alaska village life. Consider donating to the Native Energy project, and use their travel calculator to help figure the value of your own carbon footprint. You can also find a travel calculator at www.epa.gov and Green Mountain Energy.
I’m a longtime supporter of the Leave No Trace Wilderness Ethics; guidelines are closely adhered to, at all times, ensuring that those who follow are also able to witness the region’s pristine beauty. We camp with caution and tread carefully.
Carl Donohue and Expeditions Alaska is also a member of AWRTA, the Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association, a “nonprofit membership organization representing nature-based Alaska tourism businesses, individuals, and organizations who support sustainable tourism“.
Expeditions Alaska is also a member of the International Ecotourism Society, the Sustainable Travel International organization, a global leader in sustainable tourism development. STI is dedicated to taking a holistic approach to addressing sustainable development within the travel and tourism industries by providing solutions-oriented programs that generate tangible results and affect long-lasting change.
I am also cognizant of the importance of supporting local business; we book locally, shop locally, and spend locally, whenever possible. That means local air taxi travel, cabins and hotels for accommodations and restaurants, etc. I’ve always hired locally for guides, cooks and drivers. And it’s not just in the mountains; when I need a graphic artist, web design assistance, tax and marketing support, my business goes either locally, or to someone I know directly.
I’m a firm believer that low impact means small groups. Small groups does not mean 10 and more people together in the fragile alpine country; I keep group sizes down, a maximum of 5 guests and a guide. I see firsthand the impact of larger groups in the backcountry. The extremely short growing season here in Alaska simply can’t withstand the trompings of more people at a time.
In 2008 I moved to a completely paper-free marketing and management plan; no brochures, print ads, magazine ads, flyers, etc any more. I still require hard copies of waivers and things like that, but have moved to a completely paper-free marketing approach for promotions. I’ve also moved the entire internet marketing to a new provider with a much greater lower environmental footprint and greater commitment to sustainability.
Climate Change & Wrangell – St. Elias National Park; an overview of some of the impacts and influence of climate change in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
Expeditions Alaska also donate 5% of all profits towards one of the following ecological conservation and humanitarian agencies. If you’re looking for some great groups to donate to in the interest of environmental and local business sustainability, and simply to help build a better world, you can’t beat any of the following organizations. Please consider joining me in contributing to these organizations.
Local Alaska Initiatives
- Alaska Conservation Foundation - the single largest grant maker to Alaska conservation efforts. ACF has awarded more than $33 million in grants to over 200 Alaskan organizations and individuals.
- Alaska Wild – the only Washington, D.C.-based environmental group devoted full-time to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other wilderness-quality lands in Alaska.
- Renewable Resources Coalition - Millions of fish return to Bristol Bay each year to spawn. We can continue to have an abundance of wild salmon surviving in the waters of Bristol Bay with sound management.
- Alaska Center for the Environment - Alaska’s largest home-grown citizen’s group working for the sensible stewardship of Alaska’s natural environment.
- Renewable Resources Foundation - dedicated to the continued protection of our commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries, as well as maintaining Alaska’s renowned hunting and fishing heritage.
- Save Bristol Bay - Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program works to preserve, protect and restore wild salmon and trout populations throughout Alaska, especially the threatened Bristol bay watershed fisheries.
Commitment at the International & National Level:
- The Nature Conservancy - working around the world to protect ecologically importand lands and water for nature and people.
- GreenPeace - an important independent, direct action environmental organization.
- Friends of the Earth - the world’s largest grassroots environmental network and we campaign on today’s most urgent environmental and social issues.
- Patagonia’s Common Threads - working to reduce our environmental footprint.
- Dogwood Alliance - calls attention to both damaging practices and new solutions in sustainable forestry.
- Sustainable travel - Promoting responsible travel and ecotourism, supporting sustainable development, and helping travelers and travel providers protect the cultures and environments they visit.
- The Trevor Project – the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
Suggest an agency?
Please don’t hesitate to contact Carl at Expeditions Alaska if you would like to recommend an agency committed to sustainability and humanitarian or environmental concern that you think would like our support.
A Commitment to Sustainability
- Support Local Business
- Support Local and International Conservation Agencies
- Tread Carefully
- Sensible Consumption
- Paper free
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