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Sustainability & Responsibility

Statement of Stewardship – Churchill Wild and Seal River Heritage Lodge

At Churchill Wild, we are devoted to minimizing our environmental footprint.  Over the years, we have developed systems and procedures to accomplish this, including:

  • grey-water recycling system
  • Using local lumber and recycled materials in the construction of our lodges
  • Using solar energy to reduce our consumption of diesel fuel by 75%
  • Strict recycling and composting policies—any waste that cannot be recycled or composted is taken back to town and disposed of properly
  • Using only biodegradable cleaning products
  • Very minimal use of motorized vehicles; our activities are centred on people-power!
  • A commitment to using local foods whenever possible

 

Environmental Principles

“A Minimalist Approach to Luxury Eco-lodging on the Coast of Hudson Bay”

Seal River Heritage Lodge is a family owned and operated eco-lodge located just above the high water mark of western Hudson Bay. Accessible only by air, boat, dogsled or snowmobile, and 50 km away from the nearest community (Churchill) this location was chosen for several reasons – beauty, uniqueness and diversity.

The surrounding area is truly wild wilderness. The air pure, the water crisp and clean and the land unspoiled.  The beach ridge on which the Lodge is built is coarse and gravelly here, providing a very stable substrate with little vegetation to disturb.  We also minimize the efforts people need to undertake to view wildlife. The coastline is the most active area for wildlife movements – the animals come to the people, reducing the temptation to use motorized vehicles to find them.

Recognizing that our future is our environment, we honor an ongoing commitment to enhance, rather than degrade, our natural environment.  We practice and promote wise and sustainable resource use and sound conservation principles and practices for all habitats and wildlife in our surrounding ecosystems.  Simply put, we’re different, our goal is to minimize our impact on the environment while maximizing our guests experience.  Paradoxically, for us, there is no trade off, they go hand in hand.

 

Buildings and Energy Sources

  • Our accommodation and infrastructure is low impact, both visually and environmentally.
  • Buildings have been sited in harmony with the natural contours of the land
  • Local craftsmen used recycled materials and woods harvested sustainably from Manitoba and Minnesota forests in construction of the Lodge
  • Exterior is finished with stone and driftwood gathered on site and second growth pine from more productive forests in southern Manitoba
  • Sky lights & large windows ensure natural light
  • Lodge is super insulated to reduce heating requirements
  • Rooms are efficiently designed to maximize comfort and minimize wasted space
  • Solar energy system reduces need for diesel consumption for power generation by 75%
  • Super quiet Shindaiwa generator is highly fuel efficient and creates very little noise pollution
  • Our energy consumption through generated power is kept to a minimum
  • We encourage guests to turn off their lights when not in use
  • No baths to conserve water
  • Energy saving light bulbs throughout the lodge
  • Energy saving washing machine to reduce water & energy consumption
  • Grey water recycling system significantly reduces water consumption by cycling cleaned and filtered water back into the toilets.
  • Supplementary heat is provided by burning salvaged driftwood and standing or fallen deadwood supplemented with propane produced in Manitoba

 

In the Kitchen

  • We are proud to serve a menu of local “country foods” to minimize shipping impacts and maximize flavour and quality, including sustainably and humanely harvested local fish, game, wild berries and salad greens
  • We promote local traditional means of harvesting and preparing all foods
  • We buy our produce as locally as possible
  • No MSG or other artificial flavor enhancers in our cooking
  • We use only safe and sustainable oils and food ingredients
  • We use bulk and reusable drink containers
  • No plastic straws or disposable cutlery

 

Responsible waste management

  • Recycling and composting are a part of the way of life for the lodge
  • Sewage is treated on site through vegetated leach fields
  • No untreated sewage or wastewater is released into the environment
  • Biodegradable cleaning items, compatible with biological wastewater treatment, are used in the guest rooms, kitchen and laundry
  • We Recycle glass & plastic bottles and aluminum cans
  • We Compost organic wastes
  • All non recyclable rubbish is taken back to town for approved disposal, and given that we must fly that rubbish in the plane, there is very little of it!

 

Pest control

  • We attempt to avoid the use of any pest control measures by planning activities to minimize interactions with pests – Hiking on breezy days, out in boats on the cool Bay when insects are troublesome on the land

 

Minimizing impacts on our land and water

  • People power – hiking! – is our means of mobility for many of our tour activities
  • We use the smallest, most economical vehicles available for tours
  • All outboards on boats used for touring are 4 stroke fuel efficient engines which significantly reduce noise, gasoline consumption and chemical leakage
  • All Terrain Vehicles are also driven by 4 stroke engines. Use of these land vehicles is restricted to tidal flats and beach ridges which repair any impacts every autumn during storms with high neap tides. No driving is allowed on vegetated tundra.

 

Guest Activities

  • Our activities aim to be as low impact as possible i.e. trekking along beach ridges and the few established trails near the Lodge
  • Swimming with the belugas – we move slowly and wait for the belugas to approach us
  • Bears and other wild creatures are allowed to approach on their own terms – we do not pursue or pressure them
  • Every day, we have entertaining and educational presentations and discussions with our exceptionally knowledgeable eco-leaders
  • We provide an educational introductory booklet, and an extensive library of local and related publications

 

Economic Principals

  • Most of the staff at our Eco-lodge are our family – Mike, Jeanne and their four children (Rebecca, Karli, Allison and Adam) plus a couple of cousins, all work at the Lodge
  • We train inexperienced locals and build capacity in experienced staff
  • Our wages are above the recommended Government wage
  • Gratuities are spontaneously offered and accepted, and shared evenly among our staff

 

Creating employment and economic benefits for the community

  • We have trained many local youths to be eco-tour guides
  • We support staff to complete Wilderness First Aid, Boat Operator Accredited Training and other valuable courses
  • We are significant and steady purchasers of local goods and services

 

Commitment to continual improvement

  • We are locals – we liaise regularly with our friends and neighbors in the community on environmental and social issues
  • We meet daily with our staff to talk about improvements
  • We constantly teach new skills to our staff – i.e. cooking, environmental management, communication skills
  • Our guests are able to give feedback through feedback forms, surveys or verbally
  • We strive to constantly stay up to date and do better- educating ourselves and staff to do the same

 

Terms, Conditions & Disclaimers

  • Churchill Wild, its owners, employees, and anyone acting as their agent, assume no responsibility or liability for external forces that affect the experience of viewing wildlife in their natural environment.
  • The primary purpose of Churchill Wild Safaris is to view the wildlife in their natural habitat.
  • Guests are travelling to Arctic regions of Manitoba to view wildlife in their natural environment.  The essence of the Safari is for guests to experience wildlife in its natural environment, with minimal impact on both the wildlife and the environment.
  • It is important that Churchill Wild ensure the safety of our guests and the well-being of the wildlife they are viewing.  Guests travel in a small group, led by expert and informative guides, following an itinerary that is flexible to accommodate daily wildlife activity and weather.
  • Successful wildlife viewing is as much a matter of practice as knowledge, and as such it is a lifelong learning experience. The goal of successful wildlife viewing is to observe animals without interrupting their normal activities. The first step is to focus on seeing the animals, then to learn a few techniques to enhance your wildlife viewing pleasure.
  • While many travelers are focused on the large, “charismatic mega-fauna” such as bears, whales, caribou, wolves and moose we also highlight the lesser known, more inconspicuous species such as sik-sik, seal, bird, and fox.
  • Advertising and expectations are based on typical wildlife activity as previously experienced, and is not a guarantee as to the volume of a species or the variety of wildlife you will see on your adventure.  Despite the best efforts of owners, guides and staff there is a chance that the desired wildlife may not be present.
  • Weather, population variations, migratory patterns and other wildlife are common factors impacting the behaviour, activity and presence of the wildlife you have come to experience, and cannot be controlled by Churchill Wild or anyone acting as their agent.  Despite the best efforts of Churchill Wild, their guides and staff, there is a chance that the desired wildlife may not be present.
  • At times motorized vehicles such as boats or Tundra Trackers with Trailers are utilized to access wildlife rich environments. While Churchill Wild makes every effort to maintain the operation and safety of these modes of transportation, risks associated with their use are borne by the guest.
  • Churchill Wild, its owners and employees, assume no responsibility or liability for any political, meteorological, climatic, or other event, or for the services of transportation companies, contractors, or other principals for which we act as agents.
  • Due to the nature of the destination and weather, it is not uncommon to encounter flight delays and/or changes to itinerary in the event of which all additional expenses will be borne by the guest. As such the purchase of travel insurance is highly recommended.
  • No refunds will be made for unused portions of the tour program due to conditions beyond Churchill Wild’s control.
  • The guest also assumes all risks associated with adventure travel involving potentially hazardous activities in a remote region of Canada.  By placing a deposit for one of our trips, the traveler is indicating that they have read and understood this and fully acknowledges what is being purchased.