The Earth Discovery Institute oversees the implementation of the Crestridge Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan, including stewardship efforts for land management, monitoring, and maintenance. Scientifically -based preservation and restoration programs are being created that integrally involve students and the community. Biologically sound ecological preservation programs are being established that are intertwined with innovative education programs, creating unique models of both. The community at large is the beneficiary of a healthy natural area, and a corps of stewards who understand, value and protect it.
At the east entrance to the reserve, a circular straw bale structure seemingly grows out of the grassy, vegetation-rich landscape. Designed by renowned artist and architect James Hubbell, it was constructed by dedicated volunteers, and one of EDI’s most valuable partners, the Urban Corps of San Diego. It serves as an information kiosk for Reserve visitors and will house movable displays and trail guides. As the first in the Institute’s sustainable technology demonstration projects, it is constructed of biodegradable wall and floor systems, while the roof is fabricated of eight prefabricated sections made of recycled steel materials. The two-foot straw bale walls are set on a stone foundation, and the bales sit approximately one foot off the ground to resist rain damage and insect infestation. The interior and exterior walls are finished with an earthen plaster/lime coating.
This structure teaches students that U.S. households produce 21 percent of the country’s global warming pollution, and that energy-conscious families can reduce their emissions by up to two-thirds. If every household in the U.S. made energy-efficient choices, we could save 800 million tons of global warming pollution more than the heat-trapping emissions from over 100 countries. It also teaches them that new and emerging technologies can also reduce our production of heat-trapping gases. Green building techniques and green power enable us to use electricity that produces little or no global warming pollution.
The shadehouse will be a focus for EDI’s propagation activities as well as conservation education programs. Educational activities will be integrated into growing and propagation efforts, making it possible for the public informal visitors as well as classes of children and adults to learn about plants, horticulture, and the importance of sustainable practices in preserving the environment. Many of the plants needed for valuable restoration work at the reserve will be propagated here.