How Everland is changing the eco-retreat scene

August 12, 2020 by  
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Imagine a place full of cutting-edge art, gorgeous community spaces, comfortable accommodations for everyone in the family and lots of opportunities to learn, explore and have fun. This is exactly what Everland Art Park is striving to become. Everland is designed to be a complete eco-retreat and immersive art park that everyone can enjoy. Here, you can truly immerse yourself in a world of art . You can find tranquility, explore your own creativity, discover nature and maybe even take a nap in a hammock. Everland is designed to be an eco-friendly retreat that’s all about connecting with and celebrating nature, something that humans forget how to do all too often. Related: Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat What is an art park? One of Everland’s main goals is to be an immersive art park filled with large-scale installations and other artworks of all kinds. The design is meant to surround you with art. Here, nature is part of the display itself. The natural world isn’t just a backdrop, it is part of the decor and a bigger part of the experience. Artists from all around the world have been working with Everland to create amazing art installations. These installations are connected through a trail network that will take you through different zones of the art park. Themed pieces will make you gasp, stare and even think deeply about issues like human archetypes, symbology, rites of passage and self-exploration. Even the trails are artist-created so that the journey itself is part of the artistic experience. You’ll go through various interactive storylines while you’re walking through Everland. The paths will take you through forests, past treehouses , into nature nests and along large-scale artworks. You’ll read messages and poems as you walk through the park, too. There are several different paths to choose from, depending on the type of journey you want. Take the Elder’s Path, the Inner Child’s Path, the Visionary’s Path, the Steward’s path, the Sky Path, the Earth Path or the Inner Path. Each one tells a different story and provides you with a different experience. Eco-retreat Everland strives to be more than a place where you can look at art. This is also an amazing eco-retreat. You can book traditional lodgings or camp out in tents, depending on the experience you want to have. Choose from traditional camping to glamping to relaxing in a comfortable cabin . The materials used to construct the lodgings are thoughtfully sourced, and the entire design is meant to go with the flow of nature, not against it. There are also lots of ways to play and enjoy nature here. There are meditation nooks everywhere, plenty of streams and ponds to explore, beautiful landscapes and several trails. Everland uses repurposed and upcycled materials to create play spaces and public spaces to enhance the natural world rather than take away from it. In total, Everland encompasses 145 acres of gorgeous landscape about 45 minutes outside of Denver, Colorado. Being eco-friendly is about using what is readily available in nature — resources that can be renewed through natural growth cycles. This eco-retreat is a great reminder that anyone can live a little more sustainably every day simply by using what is already around and what is renewable. Amenities The Retreat Center has 9,500 square feet full of gathering spaces. This center includes a community kitchen and dining area, two large meeting rooms and 13 private retreat rooms that all have their own exit to the rest of the retreat. Beautiful, rustic decor creates stunning places to relax, all set against the amazing natural backdrop of the Colorado wilderness. Everland is surrounded by national forests. The grounds include natural ponds and streams, a wetlands area, an outdoor amphitheater, the boulder fields and plenty of winding hiking, biking and walking trails. A dream deferred The spread of COVID-19 throughout the world put many plans for Everland on hold. However, this amazing art park and eco-retreat is on track to open for summer 2021 and will continue to expand as the years progress. Artists from around the world are still collaborating with Everland to create a unique place unlike any other on Earth. This eco-friendly retreat is all about connecting to nature and to the creative spirit. It’s a wonderful, beautiful way to relax and a great reminder that nature is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated. + Everland Photography by Jeff Jones Photography via Everland

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How Everland is changing the eco-retreat scene

Nature lovers rejoice as Great American Outdoors Act wins House vote

July 24, 2020 by  
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On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the  Great American Outdoors Act , which secures funding to protect many U.S.  parks  and recreation areas. Now all the bill needs is President Trump’s signature. The important environmental bill promises permanent funding for the  Land Water Conservation Fund  (LWCF). While most people aren’t familiar with the fund, it has been working behind the scenes since 1964, using oil and gas industry revenue to pay for national, local and state parks and federal historic sites. Related: The importance of greenways during a pandemic The bill reads, “There shall be deposited into the fund an amount equal to 50% of all federal revenues from the development of oil, gas, coal , or alternative or renewable energy on federal lands and waters.” The fund must be used for priority deferred maintenance projects administered by the National Park Service, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. While the LWCF has existed for over 50 years, non-conservation projects often siphoned off its funds. In 2020, the fund only received $495 million out of the $900 million put into its account — far below the budget needed to maintain  trails  and park facilities. Groups around the country rejoice over this win. “While not costing taxpayers a penny as the funding comes from royalties collected through offshore oil and gas drilling , LWCF has supported over 42,000 parks and recreation projects across the country, secured more than 100 national battlefields and protected more than 2.2 million acres of national parks,” Maite Arce, President and CEO of the  Hispanic Access Foundation , said in a statement. “In fact the majority of Americans live only minutes from an LWCF site. Americans of all stripes reap the benefits of these protected places, which help support local businesses and provide outdoor access and opportunities for hunters, fishermen, climbers,  hikers , bikers, and campers across America.” In light of the pandemic hitting the economy hard and keeping people cooped up to the point of stir craziness, the bill’s passage seems especially timely. A recent poll by the National Recreation and Park Association found that 83% of U.S. adults said that access to open spaces, local parks and trails is essential for their mental and physical well-being during these times. + GlobeNewswire Image via Pexels

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Nature lovers rejoice as Great American Outdoors Act wins House vote

Flow of plastic waste in the ocean could triple by 2040

July 24, 2020 by  
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New research by The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ has found that the plastic flow into the oceans could triple by 2040 without immediate action. But the study, “Breaking the Plastic Wave: A Comprehensive Assessment of Pathways Towards Stopping Ocean Plastic Pollution,” also outlines solutions that could cut this plastic waste by more than 80%. According to the researchers, the methods currently used to deal with plastic pollution are less effective unless they are consolidated and accompanied by new technology and more research. The report shows that if governments continue addressing plastic waste as they are currently, the amount of plastic waste flowing into oceans could only be reduced by 7% in the next 20 years. With no intervention, the plastic waste entering the ocean could grow from 11 million to 29 million metric tons by 2040. Because plastic lasts for hundreds of years, the cumulative amount pf ocean plastic could reach 600 million tons (the equivalent weight of 3 million blue whales) by that point. Related: Record high amount of microplastic found on seafloors “Breaking the Plastic Wave” identifies eight measures that could reduce plastic waste by 80%. The proposed measures include reducing plastic production and consumption, substituting plastics with biodegradable alternatives, designing product packaging for recycling , increasing recycling, increasing waste collection rates and reducing plastic waste exports. More technological advancements, business models and research and development are needed to completely eliminate plastic waste in the oceans, according to the study. Although many of these methods are already being applied by some governments, the report proposes a more consolidated approach. The researchers estimate that governments could save up to $70 billion and reduce plastic-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2040 by adopting these measures together. According to Martin Stuchtey, SYSTEMIQ’s founder, the plastic pollution problem is solvable if action is taken now. “Our results indicate that the plastic crisis is solvable,” Stuchtey said. “It took a generation to create this challenge; this report shows we can solve it in one generation.” + Breaking the Plastic Wave Image via Sergei Tokmakov

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Best practices for outdoor exercise during COVID-19

May 12, 2020 by  
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Now that states are starting to ease their lockdowns, outdoorsy and active people are eager to hit the trails or pick up their tennis rackets and golf clubs. But what do you need to know before getting active amidst COVID-19 ? Here are tips to stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors during a pandemic. Picking the safest activities The virus is still out there. So as you venture out of your home, remember to keep your guard up. The safest activities are those that let you maintain physical distance and congregate with as few people as possible — it’s still safest to stick with members of your own household. Related: COVID-19 and its effects on the environment If you must recreate with the population beyond your quarantine-mates, singles tennis is going to be safer than doubles, because there’s only one person on each side of the net and only one other person touching your tennis balls. You can probably golf safely, but a post-golf hang out in the clubhouse is a bad idea. For now, you’re better off avoiding sports that require close contact and lots of hands on the same equipment, such as soccer, basketball and volleyball. Hiking At first thought, hiking seems like the perfect pandemic activity. What could be more socially distanced than trekking through the wilderness? Well, nothing. Except that, depending where you live, half of your neighbors probably had the same idea. Plus, hiking trails are narrow. So what happens when one hiker wants to pass another? Choose your hiking trails carefully. Depending on where you live, trailheads might be blocked and parking lots could be closed. Try to check your local ordinances before you head out. This can be tricky, since websites may not be up to date and conditions can change rapidly. In Oregon, official guidelines currently say, “Be prepared for last minute changes to ensure the safety and health of others.” In other words, rangers may close trailheads or parking lots at any minute if folks fail to behave responsibly. Pick the less popular trails, go early and abort the mission if there are too many cars parked near the trailhead. Have a face mask handy so you can cover up and protect fellow hikers if you need to pass them. Avoid narrow trails on cliff edges, where there’s nowhere to step aside. If your dog wants to come along, plan to hike on a wide trail or in a remote area. If the trails are too crowded, and/or you can’t resist those puppy-dog eyes, consider looking for quiet country roads and going for a ramble rather than a hike. Running Since the gyms closed, the number of outdoor runners seems to have multiplied. It can be tricky to navigate your path as you stay 6 feet away from other humans. This might mean zig-zagging from one side of the street to the other, coming to a dead stop when a group of kids go by on trikes and being highly alert to avoid cars and bikes. You’ll need your wits about you. Either skip the headphones or only wear one. With regular routes suddenly too crowded for physical distancing, it’s also important to be vigilant when navigating less familiar terrain. Distance runners might need to plan their routes more carefully. Being 4 miles from home on city streets and suddenly realizing all the public restrooms are closed — well, that’s not a fun predicament. This isn’t a great time for public drinking fountains, either. So carry a reusable water bottle or plan your route so that you can stop by your house for a mid-run comfort break. Water sports As spring turns into summer , water lovers’ thoughts turn to their local beaches, rivers and lakes. Many water sports are a good option during COVID-19, but this isn’t a good time to take up anything extreme. You really don’t want to have to seek medical attention or be hospitalized right now. Instead, try activities like kayaking or paddle boarding on calm waters. But because even the calmest water can be dangerous, go with your household or a buddy. You can stay in close proximity with the people you live with, but if you meet up with a friend, you do need to continue to practice social distancing. Some outfitters are opening up now for contactless rentals and physically distanced group outings with well-sanitized kayaks. This is a good option if you don’t own the gear. Swimming and surfing can also be done while adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Adhere to local ordinances and, again, go with your household or a friend. Other outdoor exercise tips and etiquette As you venture outdoors, keep your safety and that of others in mind by following local ordinances and official guidelines. If you live in a place where face masks are optional, bring one along in case conditions turn out to be more crowded than expected. Stick a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket in case you have to touch something. If you’re exerting yourself, watch where you are huffing and puffing. People going on a socially distant walk with family or housemates should go single-file if others are trying to pass. If other people fail to observe proper pandemic etiquette, stay calm. Move away from people breathing in your space. Also, remember why you’re going outdoors: fresh air, exercise and the uplifting effects of nature . This is a time to prioritize physical health and sanity, not athletic achievement or personal best race times. So get outside, be safe and try to be kind to yourself and others. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Best practices for outdoor exercise during COVID-19

In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the Avant Cycle Cafe builds community

February 6, 2020 by  
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It all started with a flat tire. A man cycling through Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was charmed by the historic town but really wished it had a bike shop to fix his flat. This cycling mishap has morphed into Avant Cycle Cafe , a community hub that combines a full-service bike shop with excellent coffee and pastries. “Cyclists have a natural inclination to coffee,” managers Ann Esarco and Andrew Gruber told Inhabitat. “When the two worlds came together, it was just a natural fit.” The city of Lake Geneva sits 10 miles north of the Illinois state line in southeastern Wisconsin. Its population of about 7,700 swells in summer, when droves of people from Chicago come for boating and other warm-weather sports. The architecture is another draw. The area saw an upsurge in construction at the end of the 19th century, and many Victorian mansions still stand. This makes the town and environs a compelling place to explore on foot or by bike. Local sourcing at Avant Cycle Cafe The cafe’s menu focuses on hot drinks and treats. Avant Cycle Cafe serves cider made from locally grown apples and has a case full of baked goods. Don’t expect to just order a regular coffee. You can choose from drip, pour over or French press, plus the full range of espresso drinks. You might also be surprised to find that a cafe in a small town in the famous dairy state of Wisconsin offers almond, soy, oat and coconut milk alternatives . Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike This is no ordinary coffee, either. Avant Cycle Cafe sources its beans from Lake Geneva Coffee Roastery . Owner Jeremiah Fox started roasting his own coffee on his stovetop in 2012. Now, the coffee entrepreneur, who is visually impaired, uses his other senses — hearing, taste and smell — to fine-tune his commercial roast profiles. Talking timers and special tactile points on the controls of his machinery allow him to adjust the air flow and temperature for his small-batch coffee. Fox uses electricity for a clean air process, versus roasting with gas, which pollutes both the beans and the air with hydrogen sulfide. According to Fox, his process also makes for coffee that’s easier on customers’ stomachs. Building a cycling community Tourism is seasonal. While some people do visit in winter, summer is high season for Lake Geneva. Avant Cycle Cafe values its summer customers and is happy when they return for more coffee and another bike rental. Both tourists and locals join a series of summer Sunday breakfast rides, where groups pedal together to area restaurants, diners and cafes . The rides are casual with a no-drop policy, meaning nobody gets left behind. Once, the group rode out to see Fox’s coffee roasting operation in the nearby town of Elkhorn. The rides are usually 12 to 15 miles each way. Avant Cycle Cafe believes in cultivating local community year-round, not just when the sun is shining and tourists fill hotel beds. “Our locals are fantastic,” Esarco and Gruber said. They even have one customer who comes in three times a day. In addition to the cafe and bike shop, an upstairs area called The Loft is a rustic, bright and cozy room open to customers for studying and relaxing. It can also be reserved for private events like engagement parties, bridal showers and youth group meetings. This year, Avant Cycle Cafe is hosting a weekly Tuesday night program called 13 Weeks of Winter. “It’s an effort to engage the community in providing entertaining and enriching activities when most people aren’t even thinking of cycling,” Esarco and Gruber explained. While some topics are very on-point, such as a talk by cycling icon Lon Haldeman, an intro to bike maintenance and learning opportunities about the history of coffee, others draw on the community’s wider expertise. Local art gallery ReVive Studio will lead a mosaic pendant class in March. Another night, people can come for Reiki healing. The Chili for Charity contest brought together 10 local restaurants and recently raised more than $1,000 for local organizations. As Esarco and Gruber put it, “Cycling and coffee is just the meeting ground. The community expands out from there.” What’s next for biking in Lake Geneva? Workers at Avant Cycle Cafe are actively making Lake Geneva a better biking town. They’ve begun working with the national Rails to Trails Conservancy, which takes disused railroad tracks and converts them to multi-use trails for hiking and cycling. They are also lobbying elected officials to incorporate bikes into urban planning . “Our aim is to include a marked bike lane on the renovations to Highway 120 from just outside Lake Geneva to the White River State Trail ,” Esarco and Gruber said. This 19-mile trail follows a former rail corridor and is only a few miles from Lake Geneva, so a marked bike lane would greatly improve safe access. Avant Cycle Cafe just started selling and servicing e-bikes , which could give some would-be cyclists an extra boost of confidence. This summer, the cafe will also be offering private, guided tours around the lake. “It’s been wonderful to be in a position to get more people on bikes, having fun and riding around beautiful Lake Geneva,” Esarco and Gruber said. “We want to make Lake Geneva the place to be for cyclists.” + Avant Cycle Cafe Photography by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the Avant Cycle Cafe builds community

In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the Avant Cycle Cafe builds community

February 6, 2020 by  
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It all started with a flat tire. A man cycling through Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was charmed by the historic town but really wished it had a bike shop to fix his flat. This cycling mishap has morphed into Avant Cycle Cafe , a community hub that combines a full-service bike shop with excellent coffee and pastries. “Cyclists have a natural inclination to coffee,” managers Ann Esarco and Andrew Gruber told Inhabitat. “When the two worlds came together, it was just a natural fit.” The city of Lake Geneva sits 10 miles north of the Illinois state line in southeastern Wisconsin. Its population of about 7,700 swells in summer, when droves of people from Chicago come for boating and other warm-weather sports. The architecture is another draw. The area saw an upsurge in construction at the end of the 19th century, and many Victorian mansions still stand. This makes the town and environs a compelling place to explore on foot or by bike. Local sourcing at Avant Cycle Cafe The cafe’s menu focuses on hot drinks and treats. Avant Cycle Cafe serves cider made from locally grown apples and has a case full of baked goods. Don’t expect to just order a regular coffee. You can choose from drip, pour over or French press, plus the full range of espresso drinks. You might also be surprised to find that a cafe in a small town in the famous dairy state of Wisconsin offers almond, soy, oat and coconut milk alternatives . Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike This is no ordinary coffee, either. Avant Cycle Cafe sources its beans from Lake Geneva Coffee Roastery . Owner Jeremiah Fox started roasting his own coffee on his stovetop in 2012. Now, the coffee entrepreneur, who is visually impaired, uses his other senses — hearing, taste and smell — to fine-tune his commercial roast profiles. Talking timers and special tactile points on the controls of his machinery allow him to adjust the air flow and temperature for his small-batch coffee. Fox uses electricity for a clean air process, versus roasting with gas, which pollutes both the beans and the air with hydrogen sulfide. According to Fox, his process also makes for coffee that’s easier on customers’ stomachs. Building a cycling community Tourism is seasonal. While some people do visit in winter, summer is high season for Lake Geneva. Avant Cycle Cafe values its summer customers and is happy when they return for more coffee and another bike rental. Both tourists and locals join a series of summer Sunday breakfast rides, where groups pedal together to area restaurants, diners and cafes . The rides are casual with a no-drop policy, meaning nobody gets left behind. Once, the group rode out to see Fox’s coffee roasting operation in the nearby town of Elkhorn. The rides are usually 12 to 15 miles each way. Avant Cycle Cafe believes in cultivating local community year-round, not just when the sun is shining and tourists fill hotel beds. “Our locals are fantastic,” Esarco and Gruber said. They even have one customer who comes in three times a day. In addition to the cafe and bike shop, an upstairs area called The Loft is a rustic, bright and cozy room open to customers for studying and relaxing. It can also be reserved for private events like engagement parties, bridal showers and youth group meetings. This year, Avant Cycle Cafe is hosting a weekly Tuesday night program called 13 Weeks of Winter. “It’s an effort to engage the community in providing entertaining and enriching activities when most people aren’t even thinking of cycling,” Esarco and Gruber explained. While some topics are very on-point, such as a talk by cycling icon Lon Haldeman, an intro to bike maintenance and learning opportunities about the history of coffee, others draw on the community’s wider expertise. Local art gallery ReVive Studio will lead a mosaic pendant class in March. Another night, people can come for Reiki healing. The Chili for Charity contest brought together 10 local restaurants and recently raised more than $1,000 for local organizations. As Esarco and Gruber put it, “Cycling and coffee is just the meeting ground. The community expands out from there.” What’s next for biking in Lake Geneva? Workers at Avant Cycle Cafe are actively making Lake Geneva a better biking town. They’ve begun working with the national Rails to Trails Conservancy, which takes disused railroad tracks and converts them to multi-use trails for hiking and cycling. They are also lobbying elected officials to incorporate bikes into urban planning . “Our aim is to include a marked bike lane on the renovations to Highway 120 from just outside Lake Geneva to the White River State Trail ,” Esarco and Gruber said. This 19-mile trail follows a former rail corridor and is only a few miles from Lake Geneva, so a marked bike lane would greatly improve safe access. Avant Cycle Cafe just started selling and servicing e-bikes , which could give some would-be cyclists an extra boost of confidence. This summer, the cafe will also be offering private, guided tours around the lake. “It’s been wonderful to be in a position to get more people on bikes, having fun and riding around beautiful Lake Geneva,” Esarco and Gruber said. “We want to make Lake Geneva the place to be for cyclists.” + Avant Cycle Cafe Photography by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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In Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the Avant Cycle Cafe builds community

All-natural, gender-neutral Juniper Ridge fragrances offer new scent options

December 20, 2019 by  
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What makes a fragrance pleasant is highly subjective — what appeals to one person may be objectionable to another. However, one thing almost everyone can agree on is that using natural ingredients is better than dousing yourself in synthetic ones. Providing an alternative to synthetic scents, Juniper Ridge has released a new line of gender-neutral colognes with nature on the label and in the bottle. Based in Oakland, Calif., Juniper Ridge collects ingredients for its products on the trails of the Western United States. With a passion for the outdoors, Juniper Ridge’s team developed the cologne line in conjunction with a host of other products to bring natural scents into the home. This is done with essential oils created from locally sourced wildflowers, plants, bark, moss, mushrooms and tree trimmings. Many ingredients are hand-harvested, while others make use of waste , which would otherwise be burned, from the timber industry and the California Department of Transportation. Related: Some fragrances in the US may be made using urine, antifreeze and other awful ingredients With only two ingredients in the bottle — steam distilled essential oils and organic sugar cane alcohol — this fragrance line stays true to its all-natural essence. Such a simple recipe doesn’t leave room for the chemicals present in most fragrances. In fact, the cologne line is missing a lot — meaning it’s 100% plant-based and free of parabens, phthalates, preservatives, dyes and animal cruelty. The idea is that nature is vast, yet primitive; Juniper Ridge aims to capture that experience in a bottle with the scents White Sage, Desert Cedar, Coastal Pine and Redwood Mist. Each scent is also available as a solid perfume inside a metal tin. Juniper Ridge produces an assortment of other naturally sourced products including room sprays, massage oils, soaking salts and candles. Inhabitat’s review of the Wilderness Colognes Juniper Ridge sent me samples of three of the four available colognes. I’ve had them for a few weeks, so I’ve had a chance to share them with family members and experience the scents in various ways. It’s difficult to provide a comprehensive review of something as personal as fragrance, but generally, I would say the colognes’ profiles range from slightly sweet to woodsy, with strong initial scents that diffuse quickly into overtones reminiscent of trees, salty breezes and crisp air. White Sage was a favorite for my daughter and myself. Although the initial blast was overwhelming, especially for people with strong reactions to scents of all kinds, within a few minutes we found it to be subtly floral, with light earthiness and a dash of spice. My husband favored Redwood Mist, a strong woodsy scent that transports the mind to the mighty and vast Redwood Forest. Having visited the region and currently living in Oregon, we can verify this scent captures the essence of evergreen forests . My adult son immediately adopted the Coastal Pine, a cologne that initiates a flood of memories of forest walks and cutting down Christmas trees. After a few minutes of settling, the scent mutes into a subtle hint of fresh cut wood lingering in coastal mountain air. All of the scents are a distinct diversion from typical perfumes and colognes, which have mostly been banned from our home due to sensitivities. I am happy to report that none of these colognes caused allergic reactions for anyone in the house so now our challenge may be tracking down bottles as they disappear into personal caches. + Juniper Ridge Images via Juniper Ridge and Dawn Hammon

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All-natural, gender-neutral Juniper Ridge fragrances offer new scent options

Stunning new prefab kit home centers on sustainability

December 20, 2019 by  
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Michigan-based Hygge Supply is known as a leader in the world of sustainable home design thanks to its customizable kit homes. Now, the company has unveiled the Birch Le Collaboration House — an incredible house that highlights how the company’s innovative, prefab designs can marry sustainability and high-end luxury. Founded by entrepreneur Kelly Sean Karcher, Hygge Supply creates what it calls “kit homes,” — sustainable, high-end prefab home designs that are customizable to virtually any taste or style. The company ships its kit homes all over the United States. Karcher explained, “What sets Hygge Supply apart is the focus on high design, sustainability and simplicity.” Related: Cube Haus seeks to solve the housing crisis with affordable prefab homes To highlight its unique kit homes, the company recently built a gorgeous, contemporary house in a forest, just steps away from Michigan’s Lake Leelenau. Like all of its projects, Hygge Supply’s Birch Le Collaboration House is made from structural insulated panels (SIPs) and steel framing. This framework allows the prefab home to be built to the owner’s specifications and easily delivered to the building site, leaving zero waste behind. Combining the best of minimalist , Scandinavian design with environmental sustainability, the contemporary home kit includes several high-end materials provided by Hygge Supply’s like-minded partners. The home is clad in Thermory’s responsibly sourced wood panels, while all of the home’s doors and windows were produced using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels wrap around sections of the home, not only creating a seamless connection between the exterior and interior, but also providing the interior with an abundance of natural light. The interior design revolves around the idea that top-of-the-line, eco-friendly furnishings don’t have to be prohibitively expensive. For example, the kitchen features Durat countertops that are made from 30-50 oercent recycled hard plastics and are 100 percent recyclable. Additionally, no-VOC powder coat color was used throughout the home. The beautiful home features one of the company’s most popular layouts, a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath space with multiple connections to the exterior. What’s more, the Birch Le Collaboration House can be rented out by potential buyers who would like to test it out before ordering a Hygge Supply kit for themselves. Karcher invites guests to enjoy the sustainable home as a serene retreat that could possibly be their permanent home. “This home highlights the best of Hygge Supply: minimalist design, modern finishes, high comfort and expansive windows that draw the natural world in,” Karcher said. “We invite people to put down the concept drawings and come live immersively in this intimate space. It’s a perfect spot to retreat and it may inspire you to envision your own modern sanctuary.” + Hygge Supply Via Dwell Photography by Will Johnson via Hygge Supply

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Stunning new prefab kit home centers on sustainability

Trailhead Ambassador Program enhances hiking in Oregon

August 30, 2019 by  
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Wilderness lovers often see dismaying things on hiking trails: litter , thirsty people in flip flops who forgot to bring water, rambunctious dogs whose owners have never heard of leash laws, clueless couples who carve their names into trees. Instead of simply griping about these miscreants, some parks and wilderness areas have developed constructive ways to educate the public and make recreation safer and more fun for everybody. The Trailhead Ambassador Program at Oregon’s Mount Hood and Columbia River Gorge recruits volunteers to greet hikers at trailheads, answering questions and offering suggestions. Inhabitat talked to Lizzie Keenan, wilderness lover and co-founder of the program, about how trailhead ambassadors can make tangible differences in the local environment. Inhabitat: Tell us about your involvement with the Trailhead Ambassadors Program. Lizzie Keenan: I co-founded the program with Friends of the Columbia Gorge in the summer of 2017. The program was a mesh of an idea the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Tourism Alliance had merged with Trail Talks, a program Friends of the Columbia Gorge piloted that summer. The Tourism Alliance, which I manage, has funded the bulk of the program since its inception, and I have been there every step of the way helping to shape and grow it into what it is today. Related: Seven commandments of Leave-No-Trace camping Additional partners to get it launched included U.S. Forest Service for the Columbia River Gorge and U.S. Forest Service for Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon State Parks, and local tourism entities like Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory . The idea came from increased feedback from our local communities in the region that search and rescue at our trails was at an all-time high, that congestion at trails was becoming unmanageable and there was a general call for help for educating visitors on best practices in our recreation areas. I did some research and found a couple of programs in different parts of the U.S. running something like what we were looking for. In the end, we mirrored a lot of our program from the White Mountain National Forest Trailhead Steward Program . Inhabitat: What are some of the more unusual questions ambassadors have heard? Keenan: Upon seeing the dog that our volunteers brought with them to the trail, a young boy asked, “Will I see other mountain lions like that one on the trail?” Ambassadors working at Multnomah Falls have been asked by visitors, “How do I get to the Columbia River Gorge from here?” The answer is usually, welcome! You made it! Someone asked at the Dog Mountain Trailhead, “Is there a restaurant or store on top of Dog Mountain, so we can buy food?” Inhabitat: What kind of traits should a volunteer have? Keenan: Being a trailhead ambassador requires someone who enjoys talking with people. We ask that our volunteers study up on the trails they will be volunteering at so they can share advice with confidence and authenticity. Finally, ambassadors should love the region. Love the trails, the communities, the culture of the area. That translates to visitors loving and appreciating the land they are recreating on more. Inhabitat: Have you seen any results? Keenan: Yes! In our first season, which ran over the course of 20 weekends, our volunteers talked to over 23,700 visitors in the Gorge and on Mt. Hood. They helped to shape visitors’ experiences. Example actions visitors have taken after speaking with a trailhead ambassador include going to their car to get better shoes and/or water, taking a picture of the map of the trail so they can reference it on their hike, getting a parking pass when they didn’t have one already and much more. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Other results include fewer car break-ins on the weekends that volunteers staffed the trails as well as a feedback loop of trail information that would go directly to the local land manager. One example of this was at Starvation Creek; after speaking with hikers in the area, the ambassadors found out there was a landslide on the trail. They were then able to inform Oregon State Parks about it, and soon rangers came in to close off that portion of the trail. Inhabitat: What kind of feedback have you received from visitors? Keenan: It has been 99 percent thankful and supportive. Both regular recreators and new folks visiting from out of town have been incredibly thankful to have trailhead ambassadors stationed at their trail. Those who are local are thankful to have people sharing advice at the trails, because they have seen and helped unprepared visitors in the past. Those new to the trails are excited to have someone nice and approachable to talk to, to ask questions of and feel more confident about heading out on a new adventure. Inhabitat: Do you have any advice for other places interested in starting similar programs? Keenan: Borrow materials from another program who is running a program like the one you want to do; don’t recreate the wheel. Start small and develop your dedicated group of volunteers. Finally, collect data. This program has been a huge opportunity for us to learn and track common issues and trends at our trailheads that we and the other agencies involved can use to better serve the land and visitors in the future. + Trailhead Ambassadors Program Images via Trailhead Ambassadors Program and Bureau of Land Management

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Trailhead Ambassador Program enhances hiking in Oregon

Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado

August 27, 2019 by  
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Home, home on the range? Not so much for an elk herd near Vail, Colorado. Unfortunately, the number of elk among this group has dropped off dramatically, and it could worsen if outdoor enthusiasts continue scaring them away. In February, researchers flew over unit 45 where the elk reside and counted just 53; at one time there were more than 1,000. The herd makes its home between 7,000 and 11,000 feet on hills and at the top of the Colorado Rockies. Related: Glenwood Springs, Colorado set to run on 100% renewable energy “Very few elk, not even many tracks,” the researchers noted . “Lots of backcountry skiing tracks.” Wildlife managers say growing numbers of hikers , mountain bikers, skiers, ATV and motorcyclists are among those causing the herd population to shrink. Visiting U.S. parks and wilderness areas for recreation has become a popular pastime; Yosemite , for instance, reports around 5 million people visit annually. Bill Alldredge, a retired wildlife professor at Colorado State University, believes the reason the elk and their calves have died off is because of the increase in outdoor recreational enthusiasts hitting the trails near unit 45. In Colorado , a hot-spot for outdoor fun and trail use, visitation to the elk area has more than doubled since 2009; reports say about 170,000 people visit per year. According to Bill Andree, a wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Vail district, unit 45 is busy 24-7, 365 days a year. Even night trail use in some sections has increased by 30 percent in the past 10 years. Andree began studying unit 45 in the 1980s because of the rise in ski resorts and trails systems. He researched how humans impacted the elk calves by sending hikers into the calves’ area. About 30 percent of the elk calves died when their mothers were disturbed, but when the outdoor enthusiasts stopped, the number of calves returned. Why calves die after being disturbed by human activity isn’t crystal clear, but some researchers say it could be because the mothers get scared by people and dogs passing. If mothers run too far for their babies to catch up, this may result in starvation and possible attacks by other animals . Signs have been posted to prevent explorers from disturbing elk habitats, but while a majority of nature-lovers obey, the fraction of people who cross those lines continue to cause stress to elk populations. Via The Guardian Images via Bob Denaro and Mark Byzewski

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Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado

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