What Travel Writers Say

Go green at British Columbia's Siwash Lake Ranch

© By James Glave
Green Dude Ranch

We all need to get away now and again-and the dozens of backcountry lodges and luxury wilderness retreats scattered across this great land will happily help us do so. But the sad irony is that the further one retreats into nature, the greater the potential environmental price. Many of these properties depend on noisy, polluting diesel generators to keep the lights on and the showers piping hot.
     Not so at the Siwash Lake Ranch, a family-friendly upscale dude ranch in British Columbia's Cariboo region. In the past, the property burned more than 7,000 l (1,850 gal) of propane each year and twice as much diesel fuel to ensure guests enjoyed all the comforts of home. But a new solar-energy plant stands to boot forever all that noise, soot and fossil-fuel emissions off the 80,000 acres of crown land surrounding the ranch.
     A new 6,000-W photovoltaic system will keep the lights on-and power for all the ranch electricity; solar thermal collectors will heat hot water for guest rooms and the kitchen; heat-recovery technologies will capture excess energy from heated water. The ranch is also switching from gas-powered to solar-powered water pumps.
     After support from British Columbia's Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund, Siwash Lake ended up investing $393,000 in the project. Owner Allyson Rogers says the new technologies will save about $32,000 per year in fuel costs, while heading off 123 tons of greenhouse gases. That's the equivalent, says Rogers, of taking 22 passenger vehicles off the road each year.
     Talk about a getaway you can really feel good about.

James Glave is a writer and consultant based on Bowen Island, BC, who focuses his work on sustainable-development issues and local solutions to global challenges. His first book, Almost Green (Greystone/Skyhorse), was released in September 2008. Glave blogs at www.glave.com.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission
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Siwash Lake Ranch
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