WATAUGA COUNTY, NC - Famed "Mountain Man" and woodsman, Eustace Conway was forced to close his Turtle Island Preserve last fall due to code violations, including building approximately 20 structures on his farm with ungraded lumber.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Conway notes that "the lumber's not stamped with a grade because he produced it himself at his own sawmill from trees felled nearby."
North Carolina building and health inspectors received complaints last summer about Turtle Island, a 1,000 acre farm located in a valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Conway owns approximately 500 acres of the property, which hosted camps and educational courses teaching youth and adults how to live the primitive, rustic lifestyle of ancestors hundreds of years ago. It was officially closed in the fall after a 78-page report by a consulting firm contracted by local officials listed numerous violations including lack of permits and a concern over sanitary conditions.
However, local officials are considering amendments to the building codes that would allow flexibility for primitive buildings, according to the Watauga Democrat, possibly creating a way to reopen Turtle Island. The issue is expected to be open for public comment this summer.
Conway was featured in the History Channel's "Mountain Men" and was also the subject of "The Last American Man," a 2002 book by Elizabeth Gilbert, known for her bestselling work, "Eat, Love, Pray."
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