12 July 2014
The wonderful world of Disney will soon include a piece of Bethlehem.
The Walt Disney Co., whose fictional forests created cover for characters from Bambi to Snow White, has finalized an environmental deal involving the 20,000 acres of lush woods surrounding Bethlehem's water reservoirs.
Those aging cherry trees that loggers love and pitch pines where songbirds flock will be used to help offset the greenhouse gas pollution Disney generates from enterprises ranging from theme parks to cruise ships. It's all thanks to the voluntary carbon market.
The Bethlehem Authority, stewards of the forest surrounding the watershed in the Pocono Mountains, entered the voluntary carbon market in 2012 with Chevrolet as its first customer. The authority got its first $50,000 check from Chevrolet last year and expects to get paid in the neighborhood of $120,000 this summer, water officials say.
When that contract ends next summer, the four-year contract Disney inked this spring will begin. The authority estimates the deal will bring in $140,000 to $170,000 annually. The deal helps Bethlehem gradually fatten its bank accounts for capital improvements for its aging water system and will help protect the watershed's fragile forest.
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