Force of Nature
The proprietor of the resort, Richard Genovese first invested in Clayoquot Sound in 1995, with the purchase of sea-to-sky acreage in nearby Quait Bay. A 16-room floating resort, anchored in the bay and connected by docks to forested hills, trails and lakes, opened in 1997. Soon after, a beautiful land-based spa and longhouse were built on the property and the resort hosted guests from all over the world. With the opening and rapid growth of the Outpost, the Quait Bay resort was eventually re-purposed for private use, but its operation ignited in Genovese, a life-changing passion and underlying philosophy for sustainable development. Ironically, Quait Bay was to be immortalized in the dramatic history of Clayoquot Sound.
An excerpt from the resort’s Sounder newsletter dated 2001: Resource-based economy comes full circle. Little more than a decade ago, the Clayoquot Sound landscape looked very different than it does today. Tofino was a fishing village with just a few hotels, and logging camps dotted the coastline. Locals relied on fishing and forestry for their livelihood. More than ten years laters, locals still look to the hills and the sea for sustenance, but through a very different lens.
After so-called tree-huggers launched the world-famous ‘Battle of the Sound’ in the early 90s’ – the largest single act of civil disobedience in Canadian history – Clayoquot Sound became world famous for its unique natural beauty and delicate eco-system. Last year (2000), after consistent and relentless opposition to logging and natural-resource depletion, Clayoquot Sound was designated a Biosphere Reserve Area by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The Quait Bay resort played a milestone role in the transition from one natural resource-based economy to another, when in the spring of 1999, the 65 employees of the closed-down west coast offices of forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel, and their spouses, celebrated their last days together at a two-day retirement celebration held at the floating resort at Quait Bay. Indeed, history in the making.
Today, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, whose ancestral, traditional territories encompass the entire biosphere reserve are actively involved in the sustainable new resource-based economy of eco-tourism. Since 1995, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort and the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation of Ahousaht have grown a friendship-based partnership built on respect for each other and for the natural world.
While it is true that this partnership affords guests unprecendented, sustainable access to the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, its intrinsic value can be found in the systems and programs that govern resort operations at all levels. Including, a committment to education of guests and media from all over the world – in the value of the biosphere, the salmon forest eco-system, the importance of restoration of salmon habitat and re-population of native wild salmon species, of sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries, of green energy, of wild food systems, eating locally, micro economics, and so much more.
The resort employs Ahousaht and local men and women, and, through various education-based naturalist and recreational offerings, contributes to the enhancement and global understanding of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve Area. Since the Outpost opened in 2000, Genovese has invested over three million dollars in an Environmental Legacy Program that now focuses primarily on restoring salmon spawning habitat in the Bedwell River system, but has included raptor rehabilitation, Roosevelt Elk winter feeding (climate change has now rendered this unnecessary), a hydrophone research project with the Pacific Marine Science Centre to identify and track resident cetaceans, and motion-caption projects for local biologists studying black bear winter denning habits.
Operating a resort in the middle of black bear and cougar country poses unique challenges, which we meet by incorporating closed systems of waste management and removal, that prevent wild creatures from becoming conditioned to human environments or otherwise putting them at risk. An energy-efficient 10,000 bio-wheel waste treatment facility manages all liquid and solid waste from storm and wastewater systems as well as kitchen drains and grease traps. The system combines advanced contained biological processes with mechanical aeration. Micro-organisms reduce inputs to totally clean, pure, potable water (we do not drink or use it otherwise), and a very small amount of fertilizer quality solids.
A BIOvator in-vessel composter manages 100% of the resort’s organic waste in a closed-system designed to eliminate leaching and ground contamination associated with traditional heap composting. The system processes organic waste into highly viable compost in 30-days, using naturally-occuring heat caused by perpetual rotation and breakdown of inputs. The heat kills pathogens and bacteria and ensures that non-resident biologicals are not introduced into the eco-system. An electric fence discourages curious wildlife from venturing near.
A steel-enclosed recycling depot contains cleaned and sorted non-organic materials like plastic, metal, cardboard and glass, until it can be taken by truck on the resort barge to Westcoast Recycling.
Waste not, want not governs all resort development. Two small mill operations utilize fallen and waste alder wood, cedar left behind from logging operations that came to a halt in the early 1990’s, and from second-growth trees cleared from guest tents sites. Barn and horse fencing is made from homegrown timbers. The new deck surrounding the original Cookhouse and waterfront lounge, built primarily of glass hung from the frames of two re-purposed steel shipping containers, is made from locally-milled forage old-growth cedar left as waste by former logging operations in the area.
Most resort furnishing are antiques – the ultimate in luxury recycling. Great camp style furnishings in the Cookhouse and guest tents are locally made from sustainable hardwood. Headboards and vanity tops in the ensuite tents feature live edge slabs cut from fallen second-growth timbers.
Climate change has made the planned transition to green hydro-kinetic power generation impossible, so RFPs have been initiated to source a multi-platform green-energy production and storage system but in the interim, a diesel generator located 2km creates electrical power. LED and other low-draw lights plus old-fashioned candle power help keep electrical requirements as low as possible.
A 45-foot-deep well located up the valley on resort property pumps beautifully fresh clean, naturally-filtered water to all areas of the Outpost. The drinking of tap water is highly encouraged. We are by no means perfect, but we try very hard to leave our 600+ acres in better shape than we found them – leaving only laughter, happiness, footprints and an inspiring environmental legacy.