Creek Construction Begins

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Today marks the end of one full week of site work on the Green Gulch Creek restoration (a sign on the farm road lets hikers know that the trail is closed during work hours).

Of course, this has been years (some might say decades) in the making, with plans and grant applications and fundraising and many, many meetings and site visits with different governmental and non-governmental agency representatives.

The Green Gulch Land Steward, Sukey, walking through the temporary compost yard toward the restoration site early last week, on the last pre-construction site walk:

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A patch of comfrey, an invasive weed (although the leaves are very good for many things, including compost!), which was discussed extensively on the site walk:

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We are still fundraising to cover the costs of removing invasive exotics (such as comfrey, kikuyu grass, bermudagrass, and cape ivy) from the restoration site.  Click here if you can help!

The view from the road, before construction started:

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Last Friday a couple of sumps were dug, and the engineers were excited to find the old Creek bed in the middle of the field (they could tell because of the soil composition and the presence of gravel deposits).

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Amazingly, even in this very dry year, the groundwater in this spot was only three feet below the surface!

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A pump has been installed to divert this groundwater downstream from the construction site (along with any water in the upstream portion of the old creek channel).  There are strict regulations about the quality of water discharged downstream from a construction site; in this photo you can see many layers of materials catching sediment and filtering the water (screen, straw waddle, etc.):

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This week a temporary bridge was constructed, and the old “bridge” (which many of you will remember as heavy steel plates and concrete laying across the creek) was removed.  Below, you can see the temporary road and bridge veering off to the left, and the site of the old “bridge” straight ahead (this photo was taken from the new road, looking toward the Pelican Inn; you can see the horse paddock on the left):

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The new bridge will be long enough (and high enough) to accommodate a wider floodplain and riparian area, creating habitat and helping with large storm events (it will also serve foot, bike, and horse traffic, as well as emergency vehicles).

Several fish barriers (old concrete check-dams that were installed by George Wheelwright when he straightened the creek) have already been removed, including this one which was just above the old bridge:

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The old creek channel looks almost unrecognizable (they have removed most of the vegetation and many of the trees, which will be used as fish habitat in the new meandering creek channel).  Here’s a photo taken standing in the old channel, right where the bridge was (essentially the same spot as the shot above):

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You can see there’s also a sump in the creek channel – the water is being diverted below the project site.

During the clearing of the creek channel, there is a full-time wildlife biologist on site, whose job is to relocate animals encountered during construction.  We were very excited when on the first day one of the workers spotted this California Red Legged Frog (a federally listed Threatened Species found in the area, and one of the reasons we are doing this restoration!):


Per an agreement with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, she relocated the frog to a pond nearby.  She says “Cody found a red-legged frog at Green Gulch today and I had the pleasure of capturing and relocating it. This frog is so pretty I couldn’t help but share – cooper eyes, great colors, cool feet.”


Cool feet indeed!

Here’s a wide shot of the sixth field, looking toward the ocean, with the old creek channel following the line of trees on the right hand side of the frame:

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Mike, the principal design engineer, told me that taking down a big tree with an excavator is pretty easy, but taking down a big tree in one piece so you can use it in a restoration is delicate business.  Here’s Mike (he likes to dig out his designs!):

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And here’s a big machine taking down a big willow for re-use in the new channel:

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Part of the PCI team (Jennifer: Wildlife Biologist, Justin: Project Manager, Mike: Engineer and machine operator), excited that the project has begun!

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Great Strides

As the Cloud Hall move-in date draws near, things are really coming together.  It is delightful to see all the little details falling into place.

Back stairs are all finished and looking great

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Siding is going up at an amazing pace.  The south side is nearly finished

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And the east side is going up quickly

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(The basement level on this side will be re-stuccoed.)

Window trim and baseboards have gone up in the Cloud Hall rooms:

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 As well as wall sconces – on dimmers!

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(Somehow a dimmer seems like a really nice thing to have when there’s so much pre-dawn activity.)

Exterior work continues as well.  The Zendo roof has started to be removed:

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 and the Cloud Hall portion of the roof is completely off and tarped:

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 There is a lot of dry rot and evidence of past termite damage (no termites in evidence now) in the roof joists, particularly around the perimeter – they will all be replaced before the new (insulated) roof membrane goes on.

Grading for an ADA path down to the basement offices has begun:

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It will be a long snaking path, which you can sort of see marked out in orange.  We will also have a more direct route, straight down the middle.

And today the concrete for the bridge was poured!

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The finished bridge will have wood decking over it.  It provides ADA access to the new program building, as well as to the east side of Cloud Hall (there will be handrails).  The han will have to be relocated – probably to the other side of the entryway.

We are all thrilled with the work and are looking forward to moving back in in a couple of weeks!

Roof, Siding, and Library

Lots of activity on this soggy, foggy Green Gulch Monday:

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(Frank and I went up to Hope Cottage and got a good view of the fog – otherwise, this has nothing to do with the CH project!)

In addition to work continuing on the new program building, the Cloud Hall roof demolition began today.  This photo was taken from the “mail trail” – I particularly like the plywood ramp they built from the roof to the dump truck in the bottom left (unfortunately you can’t see the dump in this photo).  The Zendo will be re-roofed as well, so there will be no seam between the two roofs.  You can also see how far along they are on the new program building, which is in the top right of the frame.

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A crew was out from Sawyer Construction today working on the ceiling of the library.  I was also pleased to see that they had removed the carpet.

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Finally, the reclaimed redwood siding has started going up!  It looks gorgeous, as you can see:

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Late July Details

Everything continues pretty much on schedule, with the exception of the radiators for Cloud Hall which, due to longer shipping times, will be installed well after the students move back in in a couple of weeks.

Work continues on the bridge, which will get poured this coming week:

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The walkway and stairs that run along the East side of the program building were already done:

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(The soil to the left of the retaining wall will be back-filled and be basically level with the top of the wall.)

The reclaimed redwood siding has arrived

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and framing has begun around the windows:

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The laminate counter top in the Cloud Hall women’s bathroom has been removed and will be replaced (it was quite rotten in some places):

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Painting of the basement offices is nearly complete:

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And work has started on the old basement dorm (future library and sewing space).  The drop-down roof was removed, exposing the underside of the beams that make up the Zendo floor (which were the flooring of the original barn):

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Late July Update

With a month to go before the scheduled finish date for the Cloud Hall portion of the project ( the new library will likely be done in late September, and the new program building is scheduled to be done in mid-December), things are looking good.

The exterior was covered in Densglas sheathing (fiberglass mat gypsum sheathing), and the seams taped.  The view here is from the southeast corner of the new program building, looking north toward Cloud Hall (bottom windows are to the Cloud Hall bathrooms).

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 Most of the windows are installed in Cloud Hall and the basement offices, and the building is mostly covered in a “weather-resistive” paper called Super Jumbo Tex (“The product delivers over six times the water protection of standard Grade “D” paper, while providing optimal breathability, to prevent the potential for moisture condensation within exterior walls.”)  This is, as I understand it, to allow the reclaimed redwood siding, which will go on next, to dry out more evenly and thereby last longer.

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The view above includes the bridge to the new program building (lower left).

The bridge from a slightly earlier date, as seen from the other end:

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The bridge as seen from the basement windows (of what will be the new student lounge):

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(It will look different when it’s poured and the decking is on instead of plywood – and hopefully the fuchsias will grow back.)

Meanwhile, at the other end of the building, by the bathhouse, the stairs are being replaced:

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And in the basement, many of the water pipes have been replaced with iron or copper pipes – hooray!  We have had our share of water leaks during this project, and are very happy to have such nice new plumbing!

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(The pipes will be concealed in the ceiling of the new student lounge in a few weeks.)

Up in Cloud Hall, the painting is almost finished:

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And the under floor insulation (on the second floor) and cork flooring have started going in:

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The framing of the new program building is complete except for the roof. This photo is looking from the lawn, up at the program building’s second floor (each student room on the second floor will have one large window and one small window.  There will be two bathrooms on the north end of the building – to the left of the frame):

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 And from upstairs, looking south down the corridor:

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Looking into one of the rooms:

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 The stairs connecting the upstairs rooms to the interior of Cloud Hall (through what used to be the closet in the Tanto’s practice discussion room):

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(The roof will be popped up to accommodate an actual person…)

The view from the Tea House today, as seen by the Tea Teacher:


Native Nursery

The start date for the first phase of the Green Gulch Creek restoration is fast approaching!

There has been a lot of prep, including the creation of a native nursery down in the “kids garden” area of the farm (next to the glass house and greenhouses).

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There are currently a few different kinds of plants, including a large number of Alders, in five gallon pots, that were dug up by Green Gulch and Parks Conservancy volunteers in the Spring.

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The National Park Service native nursery is also growing many thousands of grass plugs and divisions for us to plant in the fall.

Stay posted – construction starts mid-August!

And if you haven’t already watched, click here to watch a short video about this project.

Guest House Roof: A Job Well Done

 The Guest House roof was completed and scaffolding removed last week.  The craftsmanship is amazing and the finished roof beautiful!  We hope that you all will visit Green Gulch some time and perhaps stay in the Lindisfarne Guest House!
Along with the shingles, all the flashing around the windows and chimney was replaced:
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The shingles were sealed with a clear paint.  If re-painted every five years, this will significantly extend the life of the roof.
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The last thing was to remove the cleats that held the scaffolds onto the roof, and paint underneath.
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I got this as part of an email from Ezra Wynn, the craftsman who did the work, upon completion of the project:
“What I observed in finishing this project was that my heart was full.  My cup was to capacity.  I saw that if a committed group of people live simply and purposefully, and consciously calm their minds, what remains is love, naturally.  I saw the whole place enshrouded in the thickness of it, as tangible as the fog.”
There will be an interview with Ezra in an upcoming issue of Sangha News.

Two Weeks Worth

The foundation pour for the new building was done over two weeks ago.  It was poured on time and done beautifully:

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The Monday following the pour, the framing began and has made rapid progress over the last two weeks:

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Above, you can see in the lower right and left: the ADA accessible room (left) and private bathroom (right).  Just behind that is the service kitchen for the program space (left) and the public bathroom which also serves the program space (right).  The area behind those spaces is the program space itself.

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The framing, looking from the lawn near the Zendo (you can see the Tea House in the upper right of the photograph).

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The program building from the other side, where the main entrance will be.  (Cloud Hall is out of frame to the lower right.)

A week later:

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View from the lawn: left hand door is the public restroom, right hand door is into the program space, which has high windows (as well as some low ones) to leave plenty of wall space for yoga poses like head stands.  The bit sticking off the far right of the building will be one of the stairways up to the second story dorm (the other staircase will wrap around the left hand side of the building) – underneath is the storage closet for the program space.

A slightly different view of the same side of the building:

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This past week the crew began work on the bridge that will cross alongside the south side of Cloud Hall (where the men and women’s bathrooms are) to the main entrance of the new program space:

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Our happy Job Foreman, John:

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Work in Cloud Hall continues, as well.

As of a couple of weeks ago, all the plumbing for the new radiators, as well as the new electric were complete:

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Copper pipes for a radiator.

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New electrical outlet, in the wall instead of conduit along the baseboard.  All the rooms will have dimmable wall sconces.

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Wiring for a new light that will illuminate the Suzuki Roshi Memorial on the second floor of Cloud Hall.

Some new plumbing is also going in:

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Currently, windows hang out on the walkway, waiting for the right time to be installed.  Some of the windows that were newly installed a few years ago will be put back in, along with some larger egress windows that meet fire code:

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Meanwhile, the exterior of the building is getting excellent treatment:

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On top of a layer of plywood, Cloud Hall was wrapped in a weather resistant barrier which acts as air and moisture barriers, while allowing moisture vapor to escape from the wall cavity.

On top of that is a layer of one inch rigid insulation (there was previously NO insulation or siding on the east side of the building – just 3/4 inch plywood!):

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 The basement office walls are all wired and insulated at this point, too:

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Offices to the left, new practice discussion rooms (and then stairs up to Cloud Hall) to the right.

We are all very happy that the work is progressing so smoothly, with only a couple of late night/weekend plumbing incidents so far!


The framing of Cloud Hall and the basement is proceeding quickly.

Looking out toward the dining room, the staff offices will be to the right in this photo:

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Looking from the same spot (turned 90 degrees) through the staff offices, director’s office, storage space, utility room and to the windows on the south side of the basement (where the Goodwill used to be and the new student lounge will be):

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Framing for the two new practice discussion rooms (and waiting room):

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Special framing for the double wall that will allow moisture to drain out – this side of the building is an underground retaining wall that has been problematic in the past.

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The south side of Cloud Hall (men’s and women’s bathrooms above the old goodwill), before:

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and after:

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Grade Beams

 Here are some photos showing the evolution of the grade beams, completed a little over a week ago, which will lay underneath the foundation of the new program building.  There is a lot of burly steel in there, along with the very deep friction piers – necessary, says the engineer, due to the soil in the valley.

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