Our enduring home for Wild Earth is coming to life! We are humbled and inspired.
In the summer of 2018 we became the stewards of 135 acres on the Shawangunk Ridge, not far from Minnewaska State Park. After leading our character and confidence building nature immersion programs for 15 years on borrowed/leased land, we are so excited to offer Wild Earth in a place where we will be in enduring relationship for generations to come.
“We will take care of this land as if our lives and the lives of all of our children depend on it.”
Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass
We are so blessed to have an outstanding team of experts working with us and advising us as we prepare our new home for three of Wild Earth’s summer camps this year.
Earth Design’s founder, Aja Hudson, is serving as project manager for our new home. She is ensuring that every aspect of our project fits within Wild Earth’s values and that all of our contractors are on-schedule. Thanks to Aja’s visionary eye and wide-open heart, we have adjusted site-plans to save several beautiful older “grandmother” trees.
Earth Designs is also working with us to create a naturally built roundhouse Welcome Center. The timber-framed Welcome Center will be built primarily from on-site materials (the posts and beams will be repurposed trees cleared for our emergency road).
Informed by in-depth site visits, AppleSeed’s Connor Stedman worked with our team to create a comprehensive design & land use plan. AppleSeed’s management recommendations support us in mitigating negative and encouraging regenerative impact wherever possible. Rotating program sites, strategically located trails, and active management of understory vegetation are some examples of how we plan to work on our new home.
Tahawus Trails’ Eddie Walsh and his team are designing and building pedestrian bridges and trails to lessen soil compaction and provide our participants with beautiful access to key locations.
Colucci Excavating’s crew has been skillfully clearing a path for ample parking and an emergency access road that will run into the heart of our new home. Watching them use a backhoe to carefully remove trees (with minimal impact on neighboring trees) is like seeing a surgeon at work.
Eric & Dave have been preparing our program sites with a keen eye, looking for hazards and stewardship opportunities. The arborists have been removing or pruning potentially dangerous dead limbs and trees and preparing spaces for optimal Wild Earth play. We are so grateful for this heartfelt, safety-minded crew helping us prepare the forest to welcome our children this summer.
For over a year now, Peak Engineering has led us in creating plans for a safe, well-thought-out home-base. Nadine Carney, has been a great ally and support for us, ensuring that all of our plans meet municipal requirements while also satisfying our organizational needs.
Throughout our purchasing and planning phases, Terry Ringler is helping us clarify metes and bounds, identify key landmarks, and ensure that our maps, plans, and drawings are accurate and ready for our contractors.
As we’re clearing a path for the emergency woods road, we’re repurposing felled trees in as many ways as possible. This spring, CJ Greene is setting up an on-site mill to convert felled trees into lumber for future building projects.
The good people at North Country Ecological Services completed an ecological review of our new home — delineating wetlands and reviewing sensitive species of flora and fauna. And guess what? Wild Earth’s new home is potentially home to several sensitive communities: Timber Rattlesnakes, Chestnut Oak Forest, and Pitch Pine-Oak-Heath Rocky Summit, as well as Northern Long-eared and Indiana Bat.
Creighton Manning Engineering helped us investigate traffic patterns at the intersections and on the roads near our new home.
A longtime neighbor to our new home, Ron has been a strong ally – helping us to envision and repair our woods road, removing a dilapidated trailer from the site, and working on preliminary excavation.
Jim is creating architectural plans for our roundhouse Welcome Center. We look forward to hosting parents and friends in new space. The Welcome Center will serve as a covered space for families to gather as children make the transition in and out of the wilderness.
Dana was vital in navigating all of the legal aspects of purchasing this property. She gracefully supported us through two property closings as well as complex private loans.
Without the incredible generosity of our community, none of this would be possible. Thank you to our lenders and all of our donors for investing in Wild Earth and ensuring children explore and wander in the woods for generations to come.
“When we first purchased our land, we prepared ourselves for a very complex project. We expected to be negotiating with and managing many new contractors and vendors – a lot of moving pieces. But what they say is true: You reap what you sow.
It shouldn’t surprise us that so many expert advisors have stepped forward to offer their good counsel, assistance and, in so many cases, true partnership. We are blessed to be in deep connection and reciprocal relationship with so many good people. Wild Earth is grateful!”
David Brownstein, Executive Director of Wild Earth
Thanks to the dedication and expertise of so many great collaborators, we are confident that this summer Wild Earth will be able to welcome children and teens into the forest for a truly memorable first summer in our new home. We look forward to seeing you in the woods!
As a child Simon spent countless hours exploring the forest, streams and wetlands of his neighborhood in NJ. Simon has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont where he focused on the relationship between a healthy human psyche and a vibrant natural world. He has staffed and studied with various wilderness schools throughout the Northeast including the Institute for Natural Learning, White Pine Programs and the Vermont Wilderness School. When he’s not in the woods, Simon is designing and building websites and other internet solutions. More about Simon's work.