Guy Who Runs Wilderness Camp Told to Install Sprinklers, Use County Approved Lumber

Meet Eustace Conway, 51, the owner of Turtle Camp near Boone, North Carolina. He’s a back-to-the-land guy who bathes in a creek, grows his own food, and welcomes others to learn some survival skills at his place (which he runs as an educational nonprofit) for a small fee.

He’s been doing this for 30 years, but he was recently featured on a reality TV show. That bought local planning officials sniffing around his campfire.

Want to guess  what happened next?

A team of health, construction and fire officials showed up for an unannounced inspection of the preserve, acting on an anonymous tip. Escorted by two sheriffs’ deputies they executed what Mr. Conway describes as a „SWAT-team raid”-peering into outhouses, stomping around log cabins, and climbing hand-hewn ladders.

Their findings are compiled in a 78-page report with a bullet-point list of violations. Mr. Conway’s sawdust urinal and outhouses? Unpermitted, according to the officials. The wood he used to erect two dozen buildings? Built with lumber that isn’t „grade-marked,” meaning it doesn’t specify the mill where it was produced.

The open-air kitchen, with its crates of potatoes and stacks of pots? „Not protected from insects and animals,” according to the report. „It is, in fact, outdoors.”

Conway’s response is a much more politely worded

The county says Mr. Conway must rebuild or tear down his cabins, barn, kitchen, blacksmith shop and sawmill, and create a septic system before hosting any more classes and camps.

„These buildings aren’t fit for public use,” says Joseph A. Furman, county planning director.

Mr. Conway says primitive facilities are precisely the point….

„Codes don’t apply to what we’re doing,” he says.

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