Bayfield, Wisconsin (self-described "best little town in the midwest") is the latest town in Northern Wisconsin to declare itself an Eco-Municipality, and commit itself to sustainablity. Think small towns can't make a difference? Ask Bayfield mayor Larry MacDonald: "Small steps add up in a hurry. The Federal government is not doing it. It's up to us." LISTEN (7 min)Wisconsin’s conservation history and leadership has a long successful tradition. With leaders including Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gaylord Nelson, Wisconsin has proven its commitment to the environment time and time again. The more recent additions to this longstanding tradition are business owners and innovators who are recognizing that improved environmental and social impacts are resulting in lower costs and greater market recognition.
In the spring of 2004, Department of Tourism Secretary, Jim Holperin, formed a work group of leaders representing tourism industries, non-profit organizations, and government agencies with the mission of helping tourism operators adopt more sustainable business practices. This work group called the Sustainable Tourism Ad Hoc Committee, explored the development of a voluntary environmental certification program for the Wisconsin tourism industry. The Department of Tourism then formed a contract with the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative (WEI) to take the lead on this initiative to develop the certification program, called “Travel Green Wisconsin.”
Travel Green Wisconsin was piloted in four areas in the state. Over thirty tourism businesses went through the certification process. Feedback was received from these businesses so the tourism industry would have the opportunity to give suggestions in order to make adjustments to the program. Travel Green Wisconsin is now accepting applications from businesses throughout the state.