There are many ways to build a sustainable hotel. Some may demonstrate innovative building practices, while others may employ environmental responsibility in their daily operations. And then there are hotels that are sustainable because it is their mission to bring attention to a given environment. It is in this last group that we find the Bear Claw Lodge.
Located in British Columbia, right on the Kispiox River, the Bear Claw Lodge occupies one of the most naturally pristine and beautiful settings in all of North America. Hours from the nearest settlement, this lodge is surrounded by old-growth forests, majestic mountain peaks, and numerous natural bodies of water. The lodge, though, doesn’t take its location for granted. Through a series of eco-camps, they educate visitors about the region’s amazing environment and how they can help conserve it, while as a business, they take the steps, both big and small, to protect this beautiful, natural setting.
The hallmark of the Bear Claw Lodge approach to sustainability comes from their variety of eco-camps. For the most part, these camps are geared toward youth, such as their Conservation Camps and Eco Wild Camps, but they recently added a camp specific to women, as well. The goal of these camps is to introduce guests to the area’s wildlife; helping establish an understanding and appreciation for the inhabitants, while also showing ways to responsibly and safely interact with the environment. As Kaleigh Allen, leader of these camps, told Greening the Inn, “With all of the past and current environmental threats to the area, it is important that we invest in our youth so they can understand what is at stake, and in the future, help protect it.” We couldn’t agree more and that is exactly what these camps do.
Participants are introduced to the nuances of the great outdoors right from the start. Everyone is taught the basics of setting up and taking down the camp, while being made aware of the proper etiquette for camping in a forest; such as understanding what can be eaten and what shouldn’t, which animals to be aware of (remember, this is bear country), and how to get a good sense of the terrain. Campers learn how to cook and clean without the assistance of modern amenities, are introduced to the proper care and handling of horses, and learn about the intricacies and importance of the rivers that flow through the region. Additionally, these camps also employ a multitude of guest speakers that help educate participants on a wide range of topics, including fish conservation, reforestation, and water shed protection and conservation. These are wonderful and valuable skills for anyone to learn, but are especially valuable when taught to children; hopefully encouraging a lifelong love of nature and its preservation. It is very exciting to see that the popularity of these camps.
For the Greater Good
Let us not forget that the Bear Claw Lodge isn’t just about getting to enjoy the great outdoors up close and personal. There IS an actual lodge, which consists of eight bedrooms, and does its best to promote sustainability. Building materials have been locally sourced, which is especially true of the interior. Much of the furniture is constructed from local materials, and made by the hands of local craftsman and artisans, which allows the lodge’s rooms to take on the character of this region, including its rich Native American heritage. Even the cuisine takes advantage of the local offerings, as meals often consist of fish, game and greens, all purchased from local shops with sustainable practices.
In addition, the Bear Claw Lodge and its staff have leveraged their unique enterprising position to help protect the Kispiox region from emerging threats; namely ones of policy. They have continued to push for awareness and guidelines to help protect the regions wildlife; especially the Skeena Watershed, understanding that it is not only important to their business, but carries a significance that goes far beyond dollars and cents.
Altogether, the efforts to educate all that will listen – about nature and protecting it, making use of the natural offerings of the region, and supporting the environment in the face of outside threats, make the Bear Claw Lodge more than worthy of a moment In the Limelight.
Contributor: David Thurnau has a background in political science, municipal government, and agriculture with an emphasis in environmental issues.
This article first appeared on GreeningtheInn.com.
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