News at Lough Dan

Lough Dan has opened as the world’s first SCOUT ECO-PARK a place where sustainable management and environmental education go hand in hand with traditional scout activities. Lough Dan won the best environmental education award as part of the Wicklow PURE MILE PROJECT………… BRILLIANT.

Lough Dan brought forward two motions to National Council of scouting Ireland demanding a climate change policy including a review of current practices and procedures and insisting that more relevant program support on the topic be produced for leaders and youth members. Lets be LEADERS not LAGGARDS.

ANOTHER FIRST….As part of our scout Climate Action Initiative we are showcasing 100 practical projects scouts can do to mitigate against climate change and global warming and their effects on habitats and wildlife… Everything from making bird and bat boxes to planting future forests….We hope that scouts will copy these ideas to turn their scout dens into GREEN SCOUT DENS. As Al Gore says about the climate challenge “we have the solution and idealism of youth” so lets get on with it..

We have launched a new web resource where you can find the “how-to” info for 50 of the 100 eco-actions we are showcasing around the site. Everything from making bird and bat boxes to planting woodlands. Not quite A to Z but close.

We are a registered participant in the All Ireland Pollinator Action Plan run by Biodiversity Ireland. This includes managaing 5 hectares as an old fashioned wildflower summer hay meadow, protecting and enhancing hedgerows, limiting the use of herbicides, putting in planters and small herb gardens and allowing marginal areas to grow and flower. WONDERFUL for the BEES.

We have opened up our Charles Darwin Eco-Base in a replica of his cabin on board HMS Beagle where you can make bird and bat boxes to hang up on the site or take home. And do a whole range of environmental education & awareness activities. The cabin also serves as a bird hide overlooking an array of bird feeders. FANTASTIC…….

INCREDIBLE……. another badger set has been discovered on the site of our Native woodland. It is in a nice secluded place surrounded by gorse so unlikely to get disturbed.

UNBELIEVABLE NEWS……….. a white tailed sea Eagle has been spotted roosting in the Lough Dan Area. This is the first Eagle since 1842 when the last Eagle in County Wicklow was shot. This and the occasional sighting of the red kites, bussards and Gooseander Ducks on the lake is good news for all lovers of the wildlife and just goes to show that if you build it (a clean environment) they will come.

We have put up all sorts of nest boxes over the last few years, tit and robin boxes, boxes for tree creepers, kestrel and owl boxes. We have just had our first long eared owl. AMAZING NEWS

The FAB ZONE was officially opened so now you have several places to stop, sit and ponder on the meaning of life. We also have 3 campfire circles of varying sizes so you can sit around and discus the meaning of life with your friends or just pock a stick in the flames to  look for answers.

We have established Lough Dan as DARK SKY RESERVE….. All unnecessary outdoor lighting has been removed so that you can see the stars just like your forebears did. But do bring your head torches so you can still pitch yor tents in the dark unlike your forebears who bumped into everything.

Once again our tree planting event In our native woodland was a fabulous success with Scout groups from all over county Wicklow and beyond planting another 500 trees. We concentrated some of the planting in an area with high concentrations of bluebells and have created a short woodland walk through it so you too can see the annual spectical of colour…..JUST WONDERFUL

The Outdoor Adventure Store/Scout Shop has opened a small outlet store on the site. It sells a range of souvenirs, camping accessories and confectionery. We have banned the sale of single use plastic and put up water refill points around the campsite.

Vikings the movie has been filming again at Lough Dan so we have decided to give the BARN our wet weather shelter a make over and are turning it into a “Viking Long House”. We have added a small log cabin for use by volunteers as a woodland and forestry hut.

Following on from our user feedback survey we have refurbished and rejigged of the toilet/shower block. The main feature is separate access to the gents showers and toilets and we have installed separate leader toilet and shower facilities. The girls WC/Shower area has also been upgraded. Keep your comments and suggestions coming as although we are a volunteer team operating on a not for profit basis we try to run the center in a sustainable fashion and to the highest possible standards.

We have set up a small “wild” Campsite suitable for a patrol up the hill at the very edge of the site. Great views of the lake and surrounding area. A nice place if you want to get away from it all. We have also met with the National Parks wildlife ranger and agreed on some areas in the park where wild-camping is permitted.

Our summer interns have made a huge contribution to keeping the center looking good and in return they get free board and lodgings a perfect symbiotic relationship.