Other Voices: Sacrificing trees to build a sustainable community | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Sacrificing trees to build a sustainable community

It is hard to watch trees being removed from our land. So it is with mixed emotions that we watch trees being cut from the site of Wolf Creek Village ” torn because we are sad to loose some trees, but excited because it marks the culmination of three years of collaborative planning of this new green-built cohousing community.

Everyone knows the land here has endured a lot. Native American Indians called this beautiful terrain home, and then settlers mined and logged it for hundreds of years. Considering this land’s arc in history, our leftover property, now surrounded by other development, is still so beautiful.

The next phase of its history begins as a walkable, infill neighborhood with 3-1/2 acres permanent forested open space. Wolf Creek runs the length of our property, and we feel the obligation to be good stewards. While I have no doubt that this will be the most sustainable new development built in Nevada County, it is still hard to cut the trees and watch them fall.

We make the sacrifice of the trees, in order to accept the challenge of creating a beautiful sustainable community that models a much more energy-efficient and satisfying way to live. Beginning first with Wolf Creek Lodge, a community for active adults, and then, the intergenerational Wolf Creek Commons, our vision is about to begin taking physical form.

Wolf Creek Village is located at McKnight Way and Freeman Lane. Next door are most day-to-day shopping needs including grocery stores, pet food shop, a veterinarian, a range of restaurants, cafes, ice cream shop and even a gym. Residents can bicycle to the Farmers Market at the fairgrounds or walk downtown for an evening out.

The future residents of Wolf Creek Village look forward to greatly reducing their dependence on their cars and driving much less. Claudia and John Martin, who currently live in a custom home on acreage, and Virginia and Butch Thresh, who now live on 15 acres out in the Bitney Springs area, say that reducing the miles they’ll need to drive for everyday errands is one of the many attractions of WCV. And by building on infill town sites, where infrastructure already exists, we can save more valuable habitat in rural areas.

There is no more important step to reducing our carbon footprint and our dependence on foreign energy sources than reducing the miles we drive. Wolf Creek Commons future residents, Claudia and John Martin, say it’s not usual for them to make three to four trips into town with their busy schedules and active involvement in many local organizations. “I expect we’ll cut our Nevada County driving miles by 80 percent when we move into Wolf Creek Commons,” Claudia notes.

Building highly energy-efficient homes will further reduce their carbon footprint. Project architect Charles Durrett explains, “We design the homes to work with the climate to reduce heating and cooling needs, while optimizing natural daylight. We expect these homes to exceed the State Title 24 energy requirements (the toughest in the country) by 35 percent.” Careful choice of materials with attention to conservation of resources and indoor air quality creates healthy homes that make you feel good. And at the completion of construction, the property will be replanted with regionally appropriate landscaping to further enhance the 60 percent of existing trees that are being retained. Residents have already started 500 ground cover seedlings to jump-start the replanting process.

But communities aren’t about just buildings ” they are about people. This community is co-developed with the future residents themselves. These Nevada County residents not only want to build energy efficient homes, they share a vision of a cooperative neighborhood where people know each other and pitch in to help each other out. We can do so much more in creating a more sustainable lifestyle by working together with our neighbors than we ever could on our own.

So it’s tough to see the trees go. But we take on that challenge that comes with it ” to create a beautiful sustainable community that models a much more energy-efficient and satisfying way to live lighter on the planet.

Katie McCamant is president of CoHousing Partners in Nevada City (developer of Wolf Creek Village).

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