It Ain’t Easy Being Green: An Environmentalist’s Love Story

By Hillary Hanson

What does “Going Green” mean to you? Recently, the term has become quite popular among American businesses and governmental organizations alike. For some, the phrase is as simple as remembering to recycle, but at The Wild Basin Lodge & Events Center near the scenic Rocky Mountain National Park, being conscious of every aspect of environmentalism is of the utmost importance.

The lodge, which has been acclaimed as one of the “Last Perfect Places in Colorado” by 5280 Magazine, a popular regional magazine, is located 12.5 miles south of Estes Park, Colorado and boasts stunning views of Copeland Mountain, The Saint Vrain River, and Longs Peak, a mountain that summits at an elevation of 14,259 feet and is a favorite among experienced hikers and locals.

“One of the major advantages to purchasing The Wild Basin was the natural beauty of the area,” says Denice Kristoffersen, one of the lodge’s owners since 2001, “It came to our attention that the ecosystem in the area depends on careful efforts to protect the environment. We implemented a five-year ‘green plan’ in 2003 to ensure that the lodge would remain picturesque and our environmental footprint would be minimal.”

The Wild Basin’s plan has been in full effect since 2008, and the staff makes daily efforts to conserve energy and water, recycle event waste, and utilize sustainable resources from local vendors.

The lodge, which hosts over 200 weddings and events each year, converted all light bulbs to compact and energy efficient lighting, utilizes passive solar building designs, recycles all paper, plastic, and glassware at events, reduces water waste through the use of low-flow appliances throughout the building, and has enhanced 100% of the building’s floors, siding, and windows with energy-efficient insulation. Additionally, the staff regularly invites leading energy consultants to the lodge to learn about new ways to minimize the area’s environmental footprint. Recently, the owners were afforded the opportunity to install an efficient onsite waste water treatment unit. The Wild Basin has made an ongoing and conscious effort to be eco-friendly through partnerships with Ecocycle, a recycling facility and The Wild Animal Sanctuary, a rescue shelter for wild animals. Additionally, all staff and vendors for the lodge are encouraged to consistently promote environmentalism and express new ideas about energy conservation.

Many of the couples who choose The Wild Basin for wedding ceremonies and receptions list the food as the most important aspect of their reception. The Wild Basin’s chef, Brent Lewis, has integrated the lodge’s mission of remaining environmentally conscious into the kitchen’s extensive menu. He is committed to purchasing locally whenever possible to help sustain the balance of the ecosystem. Additionally, all meats are hormone free and free range without added color, vegetables and grains are organic and pesticide-free, and all seafood selections are wild, line-caught, and guaranteed fresh. The Wild Basin’s events are well known and rewarded for their innovative and delicious menu selections.

Frequently, couples are drawn to the lodge because of a zero-waste wedding option. Many of these environmentally conscious pairs wish to celebrate their love by integrating the natural beauty of the environment. The ceremonies at these weddings have no flowers cut. Rather, florists provide potted plants for the guests to take with them. Leftover food is transported to The Wild Animal Sanctuary and fed to rescued bears, mountain lions, deer, and other wildlife. Busses transport all guests to and from the lodge to reduce carbon emissions. Couples who choose to participate in zero-waste weddings often send their invitations electronically to save paper. The Wild Basin event coordinators are proud to offer couples additional planning tips on environmentally friendly weddings at no additional cost to guests.

The future holds further environmental improvements for the lodge. The owners are currently researching solar paneling that will not detract from the beauty of the building or its natural surroundings. They are also looking into utilizing wind energy for the lodge. The ongoing efforts of The Wild Basin’s staff to promote a healthy environment has come at no small cost, but if these efforts keep the area as beautiful as it is today, the cost is worth it.

For more information please visit online at www.wildbasinlodge.com or call (303) 747-2274.