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A Tale of Two Projects...
August 2009

Terry Mock
Executive Director

The planners of a destination resort in the pristine Metolius River Basin of Oregon envisioned it as a sustainable community that would improve the health of the forest around it. The Metolian resort would have had energy-efficient homes built with nontoxic materials, equipped with solar hot-water heaters and landscaped with native plants, according to its plans. It would use water collected from rainfall and waterways flush with seasonal snowmelt, and be designed to encourage people to get out and enjoy the surrounding forest. A stewardship fund set up by the resort would fund numerous conservation projects in the basin — all part of the plan for the proposed eco-resort.

But it would be its 180-unit lodge and 450 single-family homes that would make the $215 million resort pencil out. The bottom line for environmentalists was that for all the talk of green, eco-friendly designs, the Metolian still represented a new subdivision that could double the population of the Metolius basin and have an undeniable negative impact. So on July 15th, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed House Bill 3298, designating the Metolius River area as an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC) - shutting the door on destination resorts in the area. "This designation and the corresponding management plan protect the basin from large-scale development that is inconsistent with the unique environmental, cultural and scenic values and resources of the basin," the governor's news release stated.

What if Sustainable Land Developers Were Seen As Hope For The Future?

Thirty years ago, long before any official green-building guidelines existed, developer Stanley Selengut leased 14 acres of land along the two, smile-shaped coves of Maho Bay on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. Over the next few years, he built 114 one-room, wood-and-vinyl tents behind the turpentine and kapok trees. The canopy they created loomed above wooden walkways that hovered over the soil so visitors wouldn’t damage the ground cover as they walked down to the beach or up to the restaurant pavilion, which was tucked back on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Water and electricity lines were laid beneath the walkways, precluding the need for trenches.

“When I finished building the place, it looked like it had grown there,” Selengut says.

Maho Bay Camps is a model for private developers and the National Park Service alike, according to Robert Stanton, who served four years as superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park before becoming director of the Park Service from 1997 to 2001.

“This is a textbook example of how development can be sustainable as well as compatible with the environment,” he said.

The concept Selengut pioneered 30 years ago has been validated by the million-plus visitors who have stayed in his Maho Bay resort without affecting the clarity of the waters.

“I didn’t see why human comfort and environmental sensitivity couldn’t be compatible,” he says. “I still don’t.” Now, the original long-term lease on the property is about to expire and a frantic effort has begun to save Maho Bay Camps – spearheaded by local residents, former resort guests, and a non-profit, the Trust for Public Lands, in order preserve this iconic example of sustainable land development and to prevent more intense commercial and residential use of the now world-famous location.

The irony of the above tale is that one project storyline portrays land development as a curse, while the other sees it as a blessing. SLDI is committed to a mission that will assure a future where the latter is the rule, rather than the exception.

Your participation and comments are welcome.

Terry Mock
Executive Director
Sustainable Land Development International

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    In the August issue of Sustainable Land Development Today...

    • The Increasing ROI in Fiber Optic Networks
    • Real Estate “Artist” Frank McKinney
    • Tax Breaks You May Have Missed
    • Right Mix in Mixed Use, New Approaches to Industrial Parks and...
    • so much more!

      Check out the June/July issue online!

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    • A Laboratory of Sustainability
      (June/July 2009) Former military base to become a proving ground for sustainable practices. The park, which will be the largest metropolitan park created in the United States in the last 100 years, is being developed in the City of Irvine (Orange County), California, on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, a 4,700-acre decommissioned military base.
      Source: Sustainable Land Development Today
    • SLDI Sets Sights on Haiti
      (June/July 2009) Once a powerful society rich in natural resources, Haiti is now the most deforested country on Earth. To help facilitate global awareness and understanding of the need for the implementation of sustainable land development best management practices in Haiti, SLDI is planning to initiate a Champion Tree Project in Haiti.
      Source: Sustainable Land Development Today


    • Laid Off Auto Workers Learn To Install Solar Panels
      (August 3, 2009) The class is part of a new alternative energy technology program Henry Ford Community College created to help retrain the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the collapse of the auto industry.
      Souce: Agence France-Presse
    • Sun Will Help Power Nine Portland Schools
      (August 3, 2009) It was harmonic convergence: During one of the hottest weeks in Portland's recorded weather history, workers labored under the blazing sun to harness solar energy at Woodstock Elementary School.
      Source: Portland Oregonian, Oregon
    • Turning Human Waste Into Fertilizer For City Trees
      (August 3, 2009) The benefits go beyond aesthetics; the city saves money on trees, the trees improve air quality, and something distasteful gets turned into something useful.
      Souce: Kansas City Star, Missouri
    • Parking Lot Goes Green With Rain Garden
      (August 3, 2009) The Brisbane rain garden outside Brisbane City Hall is an ingenious natural water filtration device, taking on all kinds of pollutants — the byproducts of leaky tailpipes, industry, lawn upkeep and other urban sources — and removing them in a natural way.
      Source: San Mateo County Times, California
    • River Project Offers New Hope For Oysters
      (July 31, 2009) Scientists say they've created something in a Virginia river that hasn't been seen since the late 1800s: a vast, thriving reef of American oysters, the shellfish that helped create the Chesapeake Bay's ecosystem and then nearly vanished from it.
      Source: Washington Post
    • New Solar Electric System Comes Online
      (July 31, 2009) The East Portland Community Center, the first LEED platinum natatorium in the United States, today celebrated its just-completed solar energy system.
      Source: Portland Oregonian, Oregon
    • Our Final Act Needn't Be Polluting Earth
      (July 30, 2009) Green burials are becoming a trend across North America as environmentally friendly people make conscious decisions to reduce their carbon footprint even in the death of loved ones.
      Source: Sudbury Star, Canada
    • Church's Theme: Living Green
      (July 29, 2009) When the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) decided a few years ago to go green, it wasn't clear to John Davidson how serious the commitment was to theologically based environmentalism.
      Source: Indianapolis Star, Indiana
    • Postal Service Unveils Biggest Green Roof In NYC
      (July 29, 2009) Perhaps in an attempt to overshadow PNC Bank's announcement last week that it is building the largest Green Living Wall in the U.S., the U.S. Postal Service announced that it has completed the biggest green roof in NYC.
      Source: Fast Company
    • Area's Community-Supported Farms Taking Root
      (July 27, 2009) Across the region, a growing number of CSA farms, many of them certified organic, are taking root as consumers look for locally grown produce at prices that are often less than those in the supermarkets.
      Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania
    • CO2 Sponge
      (July 25, 2009) A macromolecule that was accidentally discovered when scientists left stuff sitting on a lab bench seems to soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide, a study now suggests.
      Source: Science News
    • Craig Venter: Programming Algae To Pump Out Oil
      (July 25, 2009) Genome pioneer Craig Venter has teamed up with Exxon Mobil to turn living algae into mini oil wells. How will they do it?
      Source: New Scientist, United Kingdom
    • A Hard Act To Follow
      (July 21, 2009) Hardwoods tend to be dense and durable. But their unsustainable logging destroys not only forests, but also local creatures and future prospects of people who lived there. So, a Norwegian company has developed an environmentally friendly way of making sustainably-grown softwood to be much more durable.
      Source: Economist
    • Despite The Recession, Many Are Still Spending Green To Be Green
      (July 21, 2009) While the last economic downturn stopped the environmental movement in its tracks, Canadians are now proving that eco-consciousness can actually buck a recession.
      Source: Toronto Globe and Mail, Ontario

    Editor's Note: SLDI News Service may feature press releases submitted directly by organizations in SLDI's network. This content is not specifically endorsed or supported by SLDI and is not subject to SLDI's editorial process.


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