Don’t get stuck in a “bear jam” is advice to live by for the 3 million annual visitors to Yellowstone National Park. But if you do become entangled in traffic caused by an elusive yet exciting bear sighting, take the time to chat up the ranger perched nearby in a Toyota Prius.
Over the last decade, Toyota’s partnership with Yellowstone and the Yellowstone Park Foundation has introduced many hybrids to the park’s herds. Prius started rolling through Yellowstone in 2004 when four were donated to support visitor services, help raise environmental awareness and reduce the park’s environmental… hoofprint. The vehicles also helped in bear jams, allowing rangers to idle and deal with guests without generating emissions.
More hybrids migrated in with the 2007 donation of a Camry Hybrid (one of the first assembled in the U.S.) and a Highlander Hybrid. The Toyota USA Foundation’s Leadership in Environmental Awareness for the Future (LEAF) grant program in (2008) added another Highlander Hybrid, two Prius and two Tundra, along with more than $800,000 to help develop environmental programs for children. The flock flourished in 2014 with the addition of a RAV4, along with a $50,000 donation to aid sustainability efforts at Lamar Buffalo Ranch.
But that’s not the only way Toyota has supported the park. When they were designing the new Old Faithful Visitor Education Center (OFVEC), Toyota lent its unique green building expertise. Toyota engineers shared knowledge gained during construction of the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified office complex at Torrance, Calif. headquarters. The automaker also provided a $1 million gift to the foundation for construction of the Center, which opened in 2010.
The result: the first visitor center in the National Park system to achieve Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Buidling Council. Raise the roof…or a hoof!