The perpetual debate continues throughout Utah: natural gas drilling and mineral extraction versus recreation and conservation. Most recently, the Bush administration opened up parcels of federal land near Canyonlands National Park for bidding to natural gas exploration in 2008; the move was condemned and quickly reversed after the Obama administration took over. Likewise, Escalante has been the center of the development-vs.-ecological-preservation debate in Utah since President Bill Clinton made it a national monument in 2000. Locals decried the move, saying it would wreck the economy, but the increased tourism has them singing a different tune today.
Generally speaking, the Wasatch Mountain Club, 1390 S. 1100 East, Ste. 103, Salt Lake City, UT 84105-2443 (tel. 801/463-9842; www.wasatchmountainclub.org), can offer a number of resources to eco-minded visitors to the Beehive State. Many hotels and resorts in Utah have initiated green initiatives, ranging from cutting down on laundry to installing solar panels, in recent years.
But perhaps the best way to experience sustainability is by connecting with Utah's wild soul on a trek along the state's myriad hiking trails or a camp-out in one of its many campgrounds. To lessen your impact further, go off the grid on an overnight backpacking trip. Leave No Trace (www.lnt.org) is an educational nonprofit that expands on the backpacker's credo to leave any campsite in the same condition -- or better -- than when one found it. Backpacking is a refreshing counterpoint to modern life that will give perspective on the issues of sustainability and personal energy dependence.
General Resources for Green Travel
In addition to the resources for Utah listed above, the following websites provide valuable wide-ranging information on sustainable travel. For a list of even more sustainable resources, as well as tips and explanations on how to travel greener, visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com) is a great source of sustainable travel ideas; the site is run by a spokesperson for ethical tourism in the travel industry. Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravelinternational.org) promotes ethical tourism practices, and manages an extensive directory of sustainable properties and tour operators around the world.
- In the U.K., Tourism Concern (www.tourismconcern.org.uk) works to reduce social and environmental problems connected to tourism. The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) (www.aito.co.uk) is a group of specialist operators leading the field in making holidays sustainable.
- In Canada, www.greenlivingonline.com offers extensive content on how to travel sustainably, including a travel and transport section and profiles of the best green shops and services in Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.
- Carbonfund (www.carbonfund.org), TerraPass (www.terrapass.org), and Carbon Neutral (www.carbonneutral.org) provide info on "carbon offsetting," or offsetting the greenhouse gas emitted during flights.
- Greenhotels (www.greenhotels.com) recommends green-rated member hotels around the world that fulfill the company's stringent environmental requirements. Environmentally Friendly Hotels (www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com) offers more green accommodations ratings.
- Sustain Lane (www.sustainlane.com) lists sustainable eating and drinking choices around the U.S.; also visit www.eatwellguide.org for tips on eating sustainably in the U.S. and Canada.
- For information on animal-friendly issues throughout the world, visit Tread Lightly (www.treadlightly.org).
- Volunteer International (www.volunteerinternational.org) has a list of questions to help you determine the intentions and the nature of a volunteer program. For general info on volunteer travel, visit www.volunteerabroad.org and www.idealist.org.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.