The Metolian, a 640-acre resort planned in Central Oregon, will employ sustainable building practices
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Friday, June 6, 2008
BY SAM BENNETT
Ground zero for ecotourism in Oregon may be a 640-acre site two and a half hours southeast of Portland.
A proposal by Dutch Pacific Resources LLC will create an “eco-adventure” development called The Metolian – a sustainably built resort with several hundred single-family homes and cabins for rent or purchase, located in the Deschutes National Forest near Suttle Lake.
“This could have great potential benefits for Oregon, ecologically and economically,” said Shane Lundgren, a partner in the Sisters-based development firm. “It’s a great platform for Oregon to promote itself as a leader in sustainable development both nationally and internationally.”
Dutch Pacific Resources has hired Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects to work on conceptual planning. The development will have approximately 300 single-family homes and 175 rental condos and cabins.
The Metolian will cater to what Lundgren calls the “REI consumer” – a health- and environmentally conscious traveler or second-home buyer who wants more than the usual pampering offered at high-end spas, and greater outdoor options than an 18-hole golf course.
Typical eco-adventure resorts focus on encouraging visitors – through mountain climbing, rafting or safaris – to explore nearby natural settings.
Metolian visitors will be able to select from numerous outdoor activities in a pristine setting with views of Mount Jefferson. Activities include hiking, trail running, rock climbing, biking or forest stewardship in the summer, and cross-country skiing, ice-skating, snow-shoeing or downhill skiing in the winter.
The site is located on a heavily logged section of land previously owned by a timber company in the Metolius Basin, about 14 miles west of Sisters. The resort will be a few miles from Three Fingered Jack, half a mile from Suttle Lake and a few miles from the Pacific Crest Trail.
Funding from resort revenues will provide an economic base for ecological restoration projects not only on site but around the basin, according to Lundgren.
The Metolian will be built and operated to incorporate the latest sustainable design principles – another draw for environmentally conscious visitors. The eco-resort’s green infrastructure may include solar collectors, wastewater natural purification and reuse, heating from wood collected on nearby U.S. Forest Service land, naturally ventilated homes and swimming pools that use wetlands for water purification, rather than chemicals.
Lundgren said the development might also fund a wildlife bridge, so deer and other forest animals can cross nearby Highway 20.
“We have outlined an extensive list of appropriate concepts and systems for everything from minimization of water and energy demand, to potential off-grid and regenerative systems,” said Steve Poland of Ankrom Moisan. Poland said the developers have conveyed “a clear need and intent to make this development a very forward-looking demonstration of sustainable design, construction and operation.”
Dutch Pacific Resources has hired Morgan Brown of Idaho-based Whole Water Systems as a consultant on the project. Brown said “natural pools” are “going gangbusters in Europe,” using wetlands as adjacent landscaping features in order to cleanse the water used in the pools.
Jason Eckhoff, the Metolian’s hospitality manager, said the Metolian could become a template for eco-resorts.
“We want to be at the cutting edge of this trend, which we all believe is here to stay,” said Eckhoff. “The research we’ve done shows that the consumer is really looking for ways to connect with the environment, and this is at the forefront of tourism now. People want an opportunity to share with their entire families their vision for making this world a better place.”
Lundgren said the Metolian may begin as a sort of hybrid – partially on the grid, until the technology is available for the resort to be net zero, and ultimately “running the meter backward” by feeding excess electricity back into the grid. “We hope to be net-zero water and power by 2030,” he said. One natural heating source could be biofuel created by excess forest ground cover that is converted to fuel pellets.
The development could also demonstrate Oregon’s leadership in sustainable practices and a new form of forest stewardship. Like other Oregon forests, woodcutting, four-wheeling and animal poaching have been practiced in the Deschutes National Forest. “I feel strongly that by creating a constituency of conscientious members that we can raise the bar on interactions occurring in the Metolius Basin,” he said.
Lundgren added that eco-resorts, such as Explora in Chile, serve as an example of some of the goals he is aiming for, in terms of visitors connecting with nature. Other eco-resorts can be found in Africa, but Lundgren said his resort will go a step further by incorporating the latest sustainable building technologies.
“Customers are looking for more experiential travel and resorts that take advantage of natural surroundings,” said Eckhoff. A typical morning at the Metolian, he said, could involve a hike and a yoga class.
Lundgren and co-manager James Kean bought the property in 2005, since which time they have been planning for the Metolian. The site was previously used for logging, but in December 2006, Jefferson County mapped the property for use as a destination resort.
The project manager is Jon Skidmore.
The design is in the conceptual phase, so it’s too early to know exactly what the lodge, homes and condos will look like. But Lundgren and Poland said the designs should be simple and straightforward, rather than ornate.
To reduce the development’s footprint on the 640 acres, Lundgren said he would like to see clusters of homes that are no larger than 3,000 square feet.
The project, he said, has generated much interest from potential investors. “The minute you start talking about it, you wouldn’t believe the energy and the people who are drawn to it. We’re getting tons of traction with a lot of smart people.”
He anticipates construction will begin in 2010.