(NewsUSA) - Yellowstone National Park experiences more than 4 million visits annually. The park's volume of foot traffic, particularly around the famous geyser, Old Faithful, has put a strain on the existing walkways.
Tire manufacturer Michelin first partnered with Yellowstone three years ago, providing the park with reliable tires for its many recreational and maintenance vehicles. This partnership also helped identify other areas where the company could provide assistance, including answering the challenge of creating new and improved paths that would accommodate the crowds without disturbing the park's ecosystem.
Now, the goals in creating upgraded walkways around the park's most popular areas include finding a paving material that is durable but also sustainably produced.
Using recycled tires that Michelin donated to the park, the Michelin Corporate Foundation's plan involves replacing the aging asphalt paths in Yellowstone with KBI Flexi-Pave, a porous material that allows rainwater and melting snow to drain through the material. This process promotes the natural flow of water, minimizes erosion, and allows water to replenish the geyser basin at Yellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin.
In addition, Flexi-Pave does not release pollutants into the soil, break apart with wear, or cause significant storm-water runoff.
Flexi-Pave is a composite product made of stone and rubber granules that is chemically inert. The granules create a safe, durable, non-slip walking surface that accommodates wheelchairs as well as walkers. The unique material and design of the Flexi-Pave surface also resists the wear and tear associated with freezing and thawing conditions.
Additional goals of the ongoing partnership between Michelin and Yellowstone include educating the public about the importance of preserving national parks and inspiring similar projects elsewhere.
"We hope that this eco-friendly park walkway will inspire other similar projects that help preserve natural systems," says Jeff Augustin, Senior Director of Park Projects at Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park.
"Yellowstone shares Michelin's commitment to being a global leader in sustainability for the future," says Leesa Owens, director of community relations for Michelin North America. "Our partnership has created opportunities for visitors to enjoy the park's wonders for years to come."