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"Everything goes somewhere"

Why did we pick that for our tagline?


I am a deep thinker; I like to peel the layers of the onion to see something that is a bit abstract; something that is not apparent to the casual observer. Sometimes our adventure at Clearwater Dells has a deeper meaning than what some people are able to see.


The Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, MN had this saying on their wall. I thought it fit so perfectly to what we are trying to do that I adopted it.


We have these basic missions in our efforts at Clearwater Dells:

  • To demonstrate things we have done or can do to operate our business in a sustainable manner

    • Our hope is that visitors will take something away to apply to their everyday lives; maybe learn something they can do that they were not aware of before

    • Operating in a sustainable manner is really just paying attention to "everything goes somewhere"

    • We believe that if everyone is able to enter a "continuous improvement" attitude, they will, over time, start with a few small drops of water that turn into a stream

    • We want our visitors to make the world a better place by witnessing how we are trying to make the world a better place

    • We want our visitors, both to our website and physical visitors, to pay forward what they learn to others

    • We feel we can learn things from our visitors to make ourselves better also; we don't have all of the answers and want that information exchange to occur

  • To demonstrate the de-cluttering of one's mind when they step outside of the normal chaos of their lives

    • Nature is a place that can calm the soul and cause inner-reflection

    • Nature, when you are paying attention, helps you prioritize what is important and what is not

    • Kayaking, fishing and camping activities are perfect ways to make these connections with nature


The plan has other elements, but this is the primary area of focus for this discussion.


If I go on a kayak trip, I am going somewhere to put-in. Maybe my trip is from Trow Lake to Clearwater Dells. Maybe my trip is from Clearwater Dells to the canoe landing. Everything goes somewhere.


When I cut down a dead tree on the property and then cut it up into firewood using my chainsaw, there are gas and oil in the fuel mixture and bar oil to lubricate the cutting chain. As the chain saw is operated, the fuel/oil mixture burns and generates fumes into the air. The oil lubricating the chain splatters upon the ground and onto the firewood. Everything goes somewhere.


That dead tree that I cut down contains carbon it had absorbed from the atmosphere while it was alive. It collected carbon dioxide (CO2) and generated oxygen (O2), holding onto the carbon atom (C). In other words, CO2 - C = O2. When the tree is no longer living it does not generate oxygen any longer, but it still holds on to the carbon it absorbed while it was alive. It will release that carbon back into the atmosphere slowly, if decaying, or more quickly, if burned.


Carbon in the atmosphere accelerates climate breakdown. Carbon is released by burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels include wood, petroleum products, and natural gases. They all work the same; burn them and quickly release their carbon into the atmosphere. Let them decay, and they will slowly release their carbon into the atmosphere.


In the cutting down of this one dead tree for firewood, I have burned fossil fuels (gas/oil) that generated carbon. I am, most likely, using the firewood from the tree and generating more carbon quickly by burning it. I have spewed bar oil on my soil that will eventually dilute out into the soil, but never disappear, and eventually reaching the groundwater that I drink or entering the groundwater that seeps into my creek. Hall's Creek leads to the Black River that leads to the Mississippi River that leads to the Gulf of Mexico where it can go all around the world. Everything goes somewhere.


Are we asking people to stop doing things like cutting down trees and having a campfire? Absolutely not! All we are asking people to do is to just think about it. Think about everything you do, and ask yourself: Where is this going? You will find that if you are thinking about it, you will change your mindset so that you make incremental changes to your lifestyle that make a small difference. Remember, many drops of water make an ocean, and any drop you are able to contribute does collectively make a difference.


What can I personally be doing to change this (cutting down a tree for firewood) for the better? Well, to cut the massive amounts of wood that it takes to manage a campground, you need a powerful chainsaw. Standing dead trees present a hazard. Unfortunately, rechargeable chainsaws can't always supply the power or flexibility of a gas-powered unit; believe me, I do buy them and use them*. However, I do have options when looking at bar oil.


A good friend of mine, Dave, was instrumental in the development of the UltraLube family of vegetable-oil-based lubricants. UltraLube also had a bar and chain oil; I said "had" because the product has been discontinued. In fact, the entire family of UltraLube products has been discontinued. Why? Because it is more expensive than the petroleum-based bar and chain oils and many people are not willing to spend the extra money for the "clean" oil, instead going for the cheaper "dirty" oil. Everything goes somewhere.


So, while it is true that I am not able to stop cutting trees; and while it is true that I use a standard fuel/oil mixture that is "dirty", I am able to decide that I will spend a bit of extra money and use a "clean" bar oil instead of a "dirty" bar oil. (Note: Even though UltraLube is no longer available, Stihl supplies a comparable product called "BioPlus Bar and Chain Oil" that I will begin using once I exhaust my supply of UltraLube.)


*We do own, and use, Stihl products that use NiCad re-chargeable batteries. We have a normal chain saw, and also a pole saw. We strongly endorse Stihl re-chargeable products and feel they are in front regarding their utility products.

We don't expect everyone to be perfect; we are not perfect. However, just think about this one simple thing of cutting down a tree with a chainsaw. I did have to spend a small amount of time to research something like this (the carbon impact of cutting down a tree). I did have to find suppliers of the clean products that I desire. I did have to spend extra money to obtain those clean products. But if I will go to those ends for something as simple as bar and chain oil, then rest assured we have gone to those ends for other things on our property. We want a clean property, and we want visitors to rely on the fact that we have done our best with what we have.


And, you always must remember that just because someone says they are "green" does not mean that they are. That includes products we buy, and it also includes the product we are selling here. The product we are selling here is the experience..... enjoying the great outdoors, finding yourself and building memories.

We believe that in making buying decisions, the price of what we are buying can not be the only criteria. Other criteria that need to be considered are impact to the environment and impact to society. If we want to change the world, we change it by asking, or even demanding, that the products we purchase be environmentally and socially responsible.

We also know we have an opportunity to learn from our visitors. It is not like we think we have all of this figured out or possess all of this knowledge that we are trying to impart upon others. This is a collaborative process; where someone sees something we could be doing better, we want to be taught that. If we need to be challenged or held accountable by our visitors, we want that.  We can do better also. We just need to keep trying and to never give up.


If we all try just a little bit harder, we can collectively make a difference. Our governments and our businesses are not going to solve our problems. It is us, the consumers, that direct change. We must start accepting responsibility for the ills that belabor our planet, and we all need to play a roll in healing them.

Our future generations are counting on us, and they will ask why we didn't do more.


Everything goes somewhere.

So here is our disclaimer.....

We are at the very beginning stages of this initiative. We are not where we want to be. You will be able to critique much of what we are doing because we are not there yet. We do believe, however, that over time we will evolve to what our vision demands. It will just take us a bit more work to get there, and we appreciate your patience while we take this journey. At the same time, we will never be satisfied with our status, and continual improvement will always be in our foresight.

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