Whoever said coal towns look ugly has never laid eyes on Gillette. The city takes great pride in its ample green space, public art and attractive architecture, and it is working hard to make sure it stays that way.
“One of the City of Gillette’s goals is to be ‘clean and green,’ and with more than 30 parks, the city continues to provide green space for the public,” says Michael Foote, sustainability coordinator for the City of Gillette. “Dalbey Park, which includes the city’s fishing lake, has almost 87 acres of park space and includes baseball fields and football fields for youth programs.”
Gillette Recreation and Public Art
The park and a public pool help local residents cool off during the heat of summer, and the Mayor’s Art Council established its Avenues of Art program in 2003, which brings in sculptures from around the world to display along major streets.
“The program has been very well received, and the city now has more than 50 permanent sculptures on display and 25 new sculptures on temporary display each year,” Foote says.
A work assignment brought Robert Palmer to the area in 1984. He was so enthralled by the beauty he saw and the people he met that he decided to stay for good. Today, Palmer is administrative director for the Campbell County Commission.
“The four seasons add to the changing landscape, and we have attractive, wide open spaces and bluffs, bike and running paths, and great facilities such as Gillette College, the Recreation Center, airport, library and CAM-PLEX [a multievent facility],” Palmer says. “The area has benefited from reinvestment by both the private and public sectors back into the communities, a ‘can-do’ philosophy and a willingness to get involved.”
Cloud Peak Energy
Gillette is often referred to as the Energy Capital of the Nation, a title that denotes the area's rich supply of coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels. The nation's third largest coal producing, Cloud Peak Energy, operates three surface mines in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, including the nearby Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Wyoming. Collectively, the mines produced more than 93 million tons of sub-bituminous coal in 2010.
But just as Gillette is not your average coal town, Cloud Peak Energy is not your typical coal producer. The company places significant emphasis on environmental stewardship, and in June 2010, Cloud Peak Energy received a reclamation award from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality for establishing a wildlife habitat and developing shrubs at its Antelope Mine near Douglas, Wyo.
“Cloud Peak Energy’s environmental stewardship projects are focused on reestablishing or improving wildlife habitat and land and water functions in reclamation,” said Bob Green, general manager of sustainable development and external relations for Cloud Peak Energy. “Projects have included development of mountain plover (a bird species) habitat through relocating prairie dogs, innovative techniques in riverbed reconstruction and reestablishment of land functions, intensive efforts in establishing rare plant species, development of wetlands and playas, and establishment of an elk conservation easement that included a significant proportion of reclaimed land.”
Over the past eight years, Cloud Peak Energy’s environmental stewardship practices have been recognized by six national awards and 10 state awards.
Gillette’s Sustainability Projects
The City of Gillette's sustainability efforts are also extensive, including a public rain barrel program as a means of water conservation, energy-efficient LED lights in city facility parking lots, yard waste containers to keep yard waste out of the landfill, and a blue bag recycling program, to name only a few.
“We are on the cusp of taking a leadership role in the state as a result of our water conservation programs, innovative recycling practices and actions toward energy efficiency,” Foote says. “Sustainability is about quality of life. So much of what is happening in Gillette will have a direct effect on the quality of life for our citizens. For example, Avenues of Art, community gardens, the grow local movement, Gillette College and the farmer’s market are all wonderful community resources. Gillette is a great place to live and work.”