Eco Development

While I have consulted extensively on green development as a professional, I have never actually put all of my ideas into practice myself – until now. My own hands are literally bloody from sculpting terrain, cutting trees and shrubs, and basically clearing  the bush to make way for roads, trails, and the infrastructure for a bright-green campground. After extensive research, including a visit to a like-minded development called ‘Nature’s Harmony‘ near Mattawa, I learned that rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars for backhoe/loader work from an excavation contractor, I could buy a tractor with a loader for a fraction of the cost and actually enjoy doing the work myself with the lasting benefit of obtaining an essential tool for continued development and maintenance. Choosing the right size, make and model of tractor was intimidating to say the very least. There is a staggering number of makes and models out there, and all I knew was that I wanted something efficient and quiet, yet powerful enough to do the work I needed to do.  I ended up with a 27hp, 4WD Japanese-made Kubota with a front-end loader + bucket and 4 attachments that I have deployed. I have been running it on locally-made Biodiesel from Petro Pontiac, and have even managed to find biodegradable lubricants at Princess Auto.

The first step in developing the 50 acres was to carefully explore the entire property, noting the probable subsurface and surface hydrology, slope stability (are trees all bolt upright, or leaning with the slope?) – and to begin to determine the best locations for campsites that offer stellar views, while maintaining privacy. The paths are all designed to align with major landmarks (prominent trees) for easy visiotor wayfinding, and then these are connected and sequenced in such a way as to make for interesting walks with layered views and surprises ‘just around the bend’.

There were a number of logging trails established from a major ‘selective’ (aka. select everything of any economic value) cut that took place over 10 years ago.  When a sensible skidder driver searches out routes in the bush, they follow the contours of the land, and what I am discovering, is that there are a few natural places to put roads, and I am for the most part just opening these up from a decade of overgrowth. So far I have not had to cut a single living tree over 3″ in diameter, and all of the fallen logs and dead-wood I have been able to skid out of the bush with the tractor bucket and some nylon webbing. In fact, that is a policy I think I have adopted – no cutting any living trees if they are greater than 4″ in diameter. Trees don’t exactly grow fast.

For the smaller trails, I have been following rabbit, coyote and deer tracks in the snow, and today we saw even the turkey paths in the snow 😉 –  as they seem to have a pretty good understanding of how to get to all of the interesting places on the property – sunny meadows, ridges, running brooks, springs and wind-sheltered areas.

As we now have 16″ of snow on the property, most of my brushcutting activities have ended, but not before we connected a few great cross country ski trails and a killer toboggan run that is at least 1000′ long! The next step is to put a prospector tent and a 22′ yurt onsite for Weekend Winter Camping. While I have designed a somewhat more contemporary palette of structures for the campground, the traditional Mongolian Yurt is by far the most comfortable dwelling that can be put on a property. More durable than a prospector tent, better insulated than a tipi, and certainly far less expensive and faster than a cabin of any type. After a Winter in the Yurt – we’ll see if they have a place in the future development! We’ll post photos of the yurt assembly when that takes place in February!

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One Response to “Eco Development”

  1. Andyro says:

    OK, maybe not coyote… saw two wolves crossing the highway at Campbell’s Bay this morning at 6.30am – these are definitely wolf pads – too big to be anything else – long claws too 😉 Now that we have cleared most of the snow, our trails have become virtual animal superhighways, we have wolf, turkey, hare and deer tracks all over them!

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