Introduction

          The emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) to the atmosphere is the primary contributor to global climate change.  Through our use of energy - in our homes, cars, or devices - we all directly or indirectly emit GHG, principally carbon dioxide (CO2) (our “carbon footprint”).

          In 2006, AMC committed to reducing its operational carbon footprint by 80% from its mid-2000s baseline by 2050 through expanded energy conservation, additional use of renewable energy at our facilities, and reduced staff travel.  However, we estimate that the total GHG emissions from guests traveling to AMC destinations exceeds AMC’s total operational emissions.  (For context, a 500-mile round trip assuming 25 mpg emits approximately 350 pounds of CO2.)  This mirrors the national trend, as transportation has now become the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.  Carpooling, using mass transit, and driving energy efficient cars are direct ways you can reduce your recreational travel GHG emissions, but it is nearly impossible to eliminate this carbon footprint completely.

          Carbon offsets are a widely accepted and credible tool for accounting for those remaining GHG emissions you can’t avoid.  A carbon offset is an action taken by one party to reduce GHG emissions that balances (or “offsets”) the emissions of another party.  There are many types of offsets, but all either prevent the release of GHG (such as capturing methane from a landfill) or remove GHG from the atmosphere (such as long-term sequestration in forests).  Forest carbon projects are particularly valuable as they support long-term forest conservation and provide high “co-benefits” (such as wildlife habitat) in addition to the GHG benefits.  Protocols for quantifying, registering, and tracking forest carbon offset “credits” are well-established, using rigorous third-party verification to ensure that the offsets truly reduce the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere compared to what would happen without the offset project.  The credits can be sold to another party seeking to offset their emissions, at which point the credits are “retired,” ensuring that one unit of offsets balances one unit of emissions.

           AMC currently has two verified forest carbon offset projects encompassing nearly 15,000 acres of our Maine Woods Initiative (MWI) lands.  In return, AMC committed to maintaining or increasing carbon storage in the forest for 100 years.  AMC has used the income from the sale of our carbon credits to support additional land conservation (Baker Mountain and Silver Lake) as well as MWI land stewardship, programs and trail development.

          AMC is conducting this short survey to evaluate the interest of outdoor recreationists in directly purchasing AMC forest carbon offset credits to offset their travel-related GHG emissions.  Your responses will help guide if and how AMC implements a system for selling our credits to our guests.

We greatly appreciate your assistance and time in completing this survey.

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