A break in the weather allowed for the pouring of the foundation of our Biomass Boiler Building on this Christmas Eve. We project that before winter is over, we will be heating Horseshoe Lodge utilizing our new Biomass Heating System. We already have a hot water system installed in the Lodge, currently buring propane as fuel. The biomass system will utilize 2 GARN 2000 boilers that burn wood (which will initially come from fire mitigation and other forest cleanup efforts in the park) to heat the water that heats the lodge (as well as domestic hot water needs). We calculate that this will save us nearly 70% of the cost of burning propane for our heat. And, it is much more environmentally friendly, burning a renewal fuel instead of a fossil fuel. According to the forestry and energy scientists, "utilization of woody biomass for bioenergy can help mitigate greenhouse gases, contribute to the development of healthier forests, bolster rural economies, and reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign oil." A win-win for all of us!
MPEC held its first Winter Festivity Day on Saturday, Dec 21, a very cold Winter Solstice Day. Santa, some fun games, and s'mores around the fire were a part of this next to last MPEC program of 2008 (we had a Solstice Drum Circle later that same afternoon). What a year it has been for MPEC - we started and completed Phase 1 of the Horseshoe Lodge Project while facilitating a record 322 program sessions for 7971 participants. Happy Holidays from all of us at MPEC!
With the recent snows, MPEC's Earth Studies students have been experiencing our outdoor classroom decorated in its winter garb. This month we've been working on using a compass, so students got to find their way around with snowshoes strapped to their feet (a first for essentially every one of them). Winter has finally arrived, and one thing MPEC does with it is teach that it is perfectly OK to be outside when it is cold or snowy (a real eye-opener for many more of our students than you'd think). We teach them that as long as they are properly prepared with the right gear (we're using lots of our donated hats and gloves lately), being outside in winter can be wonderful! Here are a few photos tken over the past few days here at MPEC!