Sustainable Pulse Profile: Michelle Hefty, Newport State Park

Michelle Hefty is the Park Manager at Newport State Park. As she described it, her job includes many things, but basically, “working for the smooth operation of the park.”

Obvious fauna and flora aside, Newport State Park is very “green.” Newport has been recycling and pushing recycling on campers for many years. “We recycle everything,” Hefty explained, “like paper for the campers, and we have recycling bins for all.”

The camp also enforces “carry-in, carry-out” garbage and encourages people to use reusable supplies while in the park picnicking or camping.

One of the park’s most recent developments was a new Visitor Center, finished in April.

“We tried to build as green as possible,” Hefty said. “We’re a wilderness park, and we’re trying to be green with the land.”

With this new building at the forefront of park goings-on, Newport plans to apply for Travel Green Wisconsin certification, a program promoting self-evaluation of practices and resource use by businesses and organizations.

With hopes of becoming a part of that initiative, the new building had to meet different requirements with respect to energy efficiency, waste reduction, and community and educational benefits. For example, the building has fans to help with heating and cooling, compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flush toilets, insulated pipes, and as many recycled materials as possible were used in construction. “We also have a rain garden to help utilize water, and we landscaped with native plants,” Hefty explained.

Hefty said Newport makes the effort to be green in all activities around the park. “We sweep the sidewalks, we don’t hose them so as not to waste water, we purchase items in bulk or concentrate form, and we have signs all over encouraging people to recycle. Also, we’re trying to reduce vehicle usage through the park. We employees try to carpool as much as possible when we’re going to meetings or to other parks.”

“It’s only natural,” Hefty explained, “as a state park and protector of our resources, it comes with our business.”

Business aside, Michelle Hefty leads her personal life with the same goals in mind.

Waste Management: “I recycle everything I can – paper, plastic, cans,” Hefty said. “When I travel, it really irritates me when I can’t recycle.”

Around the house: “In the winter I turn the heat way down, and in the summer I don’t even have AC,” she said. “I use phosphate-free cleaning products, compact fluorescent bulbs, an energy saving dishwasher, low-flush toilets.”

In the kitchen: Hefty tries to buy locally at farm markets. “I try to utilize as many local products as I can.”

Her great outdoors: “I don’t have to have a green, perfect lawn. I don’t water my yard; I let Mother Nature do what she’s going to do with it.”

Looking forward: “I think my biggest hope is that people continue to respect the park and other natural resources, and not take it for granted or abuse it,” Hefty said. “I think it’s easy for people in Wisconsin to take parks for granted, because our state park system is so great.”

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