If you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park in the upcoming season or beyond, you might notice something different about the Old Faithful walkway.
Last week, crews from Michelin came to the Park to lay down a new walkway, encompassing 6,400 square feet in total, using Flexi-Pave by KB Industries, Inc. In contrast to asphalt, this new material should curb erosion and accommodate Yellowstone’s prodigious foot traffic.
Now, why Michelin? Simple: the new Old Faithful walkway uses, among other materials, recycled Michelin tires originally donated for use on Yellowstone’s vehicle fleet. Once the tires clocked 100,000 miles, they were recycled for use on the path.
Among the path’s innovations include porousness, which allows groundwater to flow more directly. In addition, the Old Faithful walkway is structured so water doesn’t course so strongly, thereby reducing erosion. Most importantly, because the walkway is made from recycled tire and other components, it won’t leach oil into the ground—a familiar nuisance with asphalt.
The new material will allow 3,000 gallons of groundwater per square foot to pass, according to KBI CEO/founder Kevin Bagnall in a Michelin press release.
The new Old Faithful walkway was the result of a partnership between Michelin, KBI, and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, along with Park officials and concessionaires. Michelin, for instance, has been a partner with the YPF since 2008.
As mentioned, Michelin originally donated the tires used in the Old Faithful walkway; further, the company donates roughly $300,000 worth of tires and maintenance advice on an annual basis. These tires are put to use driving Yellowstone’s 800 some vehicles, which includes electric carts, patrol cars, snow plows, earth-moving vehicles, garbage trucks, and tractor trailers.
“The Old Faithful Walkway Project is a great example of what a difference a company devoted to sustainability can make in the world’s first national park,” said Karen Bates Kress, president of the YPF, in a press release. “We are fortunate to have a corporate partner as farsighted, public spirited, and generous as Michelin.”
The project has generated excitement not only in the YPF but also in the ranks of Michelin.
“We held a company-wide contest in which we gave our employees from the U.S., Canada and Mexico a chance to spend a week here at Yellowstone and work eight hours a day on this innovative new pathway,” said Leesa Owens, the director of community relations for Michelin in a press release. “More than 2,200 entered and 10 were chosen from our facilities to help be a part of this important project and also experience the natural beauty of one of America’s great national treasures.”
“Helping build and provide material for this new pathway is very much in line with Michelin’s goal of working with the Yellowstone Park Foundation,” Owens added. “It has been a very exciting project to be involved in. It doesn’t get more hands on than this.”
Ideally, the project will not only curb immediate erosion concerns but will inspire further development using recycled materials and environmentally-conscious construction, which in turn will lessen the strain on Yellowstone’s ecosystem and elevate visitor experience.