Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial (mass) tourism. Its purpose may be to educate the traveler, to provide funds for ecological conservation, to directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. Since the 1980s ecotourism has been considered a critical endeavour by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention. Several university programs use this description as the working definition of ecotourism.
Generally, ecotourism deals with living parts of the natural environments. Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is intended to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.
Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.  For these reasons, ecotourism often appeals to advocates of environmental and social responsibility.
Fauquier (Virtual) Ecotourism: www.ER-LI.com
Promotion of ecotourism to Fauquier from surrounding areas such as DC requires a budget, commitment, promotion, participation, organization, planning, coordination, scheduling, meetings, and (project) management across multiple entities including host businesses, non-profits, government and schools.
Examples of potential (virtual) ecotourism to Fauquier ALREADY include:
- 2013: August / September prepaid monthly overnight / day coach tours (4 stops) starting at Poplar Springs / Airlie Pavilion both geothermal and eco-friendly - Meetze Road Food - Farm Project, Great Harvest (pickup sample desert snack bags) / Main Street / Red Truck / Farmers Market / Mosby Museum / PEC HQ (showcase local non-profits), Fauquier High School and wine tasting tour including Barrel Oak Winery, Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Craft Winery / Cold War Museum
- October “Fauquier Fest” where local events have a common brand / promotion
- November “Finding Fauquier” expo with 10 renewable energy sponsors / Top 25** awards
- 2014: January / September prepaid overnight / day coach tours (7 stops) starting at Poplar Springs / Airlie Pavilion both geothermal and eco-friendly - Meetze Road Food - Farm Project, Great Harvest (pickup sample desert snack bags) / Main Street / Red Truck / Farmers Market / Mosby, PEC HQ (showcase local non-profits), Fauquier High School and wine tasting tour including Barrel Oak Winery, Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Craft Winery / Cold War Museum
- Coordinated October “Fauquier Fest” where local events have a common brand / promotion
- Farmers market on steroids at Great Meadow
- November “Finding Fauquier” expo with 20 sustainable technology sponsors / Top 50 awards
Strategies for “Finding Fauquier” - and knowing how to say it.
We gain many local advantages by providing safe eco-friendly ecotourism to surrounding areas such as NoVA, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Richmond, Maryland, and Carolinas in the Mid-Atlantic Region:
- Economic benefits include off season traffic, revenue, jobs, and new markets for local produce
- Educational benefits to both visitors and residents
- Coordinated initiatives with government, schools, towns, businesses, farms, non-profits, historical buildings, parks, paths, sports, planning, zoning, policies, transportation, economies of scale, consistency, etc. that when combined benefit energy conservation / sustainability / technology
History is the greatest repository of current culture as it exists today.
By educating others in successful projects that preserved the old while benefitting from new sustainable technologies such as recycling buildings for new / updated purposes, we collectively raise the bar for others in Fauquier to follow.
- 26 wineries – 3 use geothermal (Pearmund, Barrel Oak, Vint Hill) and could be off-grid / net zero with not too much more capital investment – what about the other 23?
- 1 winery recycled / upgraded an old building for new functions – Vint Hill Craft Winery
- 1 new startup, a microbrewery is recycling older buildings and installing geothermal HVAC
- 1 hotel installed geothermal when a new hotel was built in 2002 – Poplar Springs, The Inn Spa
- Great Harvest is smart about energy, use of local produce (eggs) and eco-friendly client products
- Airlie Foundation retrofitted geothermal in their pavilion / Chestnut Forks saved $3500 in 120 days
- Red Truck took a gas station and turned it into a bakery with unique products to ship worldwide
- The list of what we know and whom we plan to recognize / award gets longer everyday
Government strategy lowers unit costs by adopting eco-friendly policies such as “no idle” zones, tax incentives for less dependence on grid-based electricity, upgrading facilities with smart retrofits and a true Capital Improvement plan for the next 10 years. Dominion power line impact! 10% reduction is EASY!
Schools (update Aspirations 2015) have 20 complexes housing 11,000 students that could literally become beacons of light when power outages from bad weather invade our community. Again, $30M over 10 years has a ROI to benefit all taxpayers – saving $3M per year at current utility rates.
Define the Greenest County in the USA?
Criteria might include (complete by 6/30/13 / Volunteers?):
- Sustainable Vision –
- Sustainable Mission –
- Sustainable Strategy –
- Sustainable Goals and Objectives –
- Sustainable / Proven Results – Our TOP 20 is a start
Strategic areas might include (plays to our local Fauquier strengths):
- Farm / Garden to table programs and initiatives including school based initiatives
- Land preservation / Riparian buffers
- Farmers markets / Program just distributed Eat / Buy Local
- Tree planting programs / Water quality for streams, rivers and lakes (Chesapeake oysters)
- Local lake fishing / fish farms / rivers / canoe trips / Rappahannock River / Chesapeake watershed
- Geothermal, solar, and wind energy generation and small businesses to retrofit existing buildings
- Off grid backup systems for wells and residential lighting
- Disaster recovery plans to operate fire stations, doctors, hospital with off-grid power
- Roundabouts to avoid accidents and need for police when traffic lights go out
- Walkways, use of bikes, pedestrian safety and ability to NOT use a vehicle
- No idle zones – Warrenton, County, The Plains, WARF, Vint Hill, Brookside, Bealeton, etc.
- Reduced waste – stubble in field to energy (Europeans way ahead) – Land Fill program
- Reduced waste in schools / government – shared services expansion (5% cost reduction a breeze)
- Non-profits that advocate specific interests that benefit communities
- Innovation / Invention / Technology / George Mason Incubator.
- Community, community, community …
- Rewards and Recognition Annual / Monthly Events: TOP 20 to 50 to 100 to 250 to 1000+
Adopting this working document as a strategy for moving forward embraces the changes necessary to improve our current and enviable quality of life in Fauquier
By the end of 2014 we can PROVE that we are the greenest county in the nation.
A “NEW BEGINNING for all – Finding Fauquier”