Eco-friendly campground to highlight sustainability, community

Moab’s first commercial straw bale building, A.C.T Campground and Learning Space, will open in a few short months, according to co-owner Cherie Major. She hopes that the site, with its environmentally friendly construction materials and emphasis on sustainability, will serve not only as a campground but also as an educational space for both local residents and visitors.

Along with a small residence for Major and her husband, Kim Sherwood, the facility will offer 21 RV and 19 tent sites, as well as nine hostel-style rooms.

But Major said the campground, which will operate under the motto “Act Responsibly, Sleep Comfortably,” will also emphasize its community area, which is designed to provide a common gathering space for visitors. The main building will also feature a meeting room for workshops and other events.

Using the facility itself as a model, Major and Sherwood plan to offer educational workshops and trainings at the campground that are focused on sustainability issues.

“We want to give people environmental information that’s reasonable, that’s actually do-able,” said Major. “We’re just trying to model good habits.”

Writer and photographer David L. Brown, who is also a friend of Sherwood and Major, will serve as the campground’s artist-in-residence, Brown told The Times-Independent in November. Brown plans to lead photography tours in the area, and he and Major will also offer workshops for fiction and non-fiction writers, according to the campground’s website, actcampground.com.

Contractor Eric Plourde, of Eco Logic Design Build, said the A.C.T building uses several unconventional construction materials, including straw bale, insulated concrete forms, and structurally integrated panels.

Because of the varied wall elements, Plourde and his team created “truth windows” or openings in the wall surface, that reveal the sustainable element when the walls are completed.

Located in the common area, the truth windows will serve as educational tools for visitors to learn about sustainable building.

Major and Sherwood also want to model good water harvesting practices on the site, drawing inspiration from Utah State University’s Bee Inspired Gardens, which incorporate water harvesting, pollinator and edible plant species within their design.

“I went to USU to their rainwater harvesting workshop, and as a result, we are putting in water cistern systems,” said Major. “They really helped us, because of that workshop, we have the infrastructure in to harvest water.”

Energy efficiency also takes importance in their design, as the campground will use solar panels to heat and cool the building and battery packs that store electricity.

“We want to show that you can be environmentally responsible without going completely off the grid,” said Major.

Major said she and Sherwood first conceived of A.C.T. Campground and Learning Space while traveling by van throughout Australia and New Zealand.

They loved the communal kitchens at each campground they visited, which served as a place to meet other travelers and share stories.

Sherwood, an environmental engineer, and Major, a retired professor of education, already knew that they wanted to incorporate education and sustainability into the next phase of their lives as semi-retired adults.

So they combined their love for the communal campground and sustainability.

“We thought we’d build a campground with a community area and have a campground model of sustainability,” said Major.

For Moab residents who are interested in the project, A.C.T Campground and Learning Space will hold a public grand opening in late March or April, Major said.

For more information contact Cherie Major and Kim Sherwood at [email protected]

ByBy Molly Marcello

Staff Writer