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Sustainable Solutions offer for land management fix

By Staff | May 12, 2017

Chronicle photo by Vanessa McGuigan Sustainable Solutions President, James Remuzzi stands in front of their colorful mural depicting native plants, rhododendron, trumpet vine and huckleberry.

With a background in forestry and sustainable forest management, Sustainable Solutions president, James Remuzzi is well-versed in his field.

The company, located 4419 Kearneysville Pike in Shepherdstown, held an open house Saturday to give people an idea of their services. They are a natural resource management company that uses an ecosystem services approach to help people manage their lands.

“A lot of people have noticed our mural and are curious about what we actually do,” Remuzzi said. “This idea of ecological land management is like thinking of nature as this complete house that we’re all living in together. Ecosystem services are the benefits that nature provides to people often for free. In fact, the world ‘ecological’ is from the Greek that means ‘house.'”

Among the options offered are, pollinator habitat, meadow plots, prescribed fire, storm water control and rain barrels and a 7 layer food forest.

“One-third of the food on our plates is there because a bee makes it happen,” Remuzzi said. “When you think of nature that way-it helps all of us. No matter what your background, who you are, whether you love nature or not, it helps us by cleaning our air, provides us water and food. That’s the approach we use when we work with our clients.”

Remuzzi said they work with people who have 1 or 2 acres all the way up to thousands of acres. Their mission is to help people come up with effective solutions by inventorying the land, almost like a home inspection, but outside, to determine the best ways to protect, conserve and preserve land. For example, Many people tire of mowing large acreage so meadow plots can be planted to attract a wide diversity of wildlife including songbirds and pollinators like bees, ants and butterflies.

“We’ve got a ‘design-build’ approach,” said Remuzzi. “We meet with the landowner and figure out goals and objectives. We’ll do an inventory of your land and come up with a plan. Based on that, we can implement services on the ground-everything from tree planting to meadow establishment, controlling invasive plants, putting in roads, trails and access paths. One of our other specialty services is ‘prescribed fire’. We can plan and implement the safe use of fire. It has a huge amount of benefits for a whole range of ecosystems-everything from controlling ticks to revitalizing grasslands, to recycling nutrients, to reducing hazardous fuels.”

Remuzzi explained that fire is a natural part of the landscape but “Smokey the Bear” campaigns effectively convinced people that fire in the wild lands was a bad thing. When the low-intensity fires are prevented from burning and lowering the amount the fuels, the fuels layer and stack up in the dead and downed material, usually resulting in a high intensity fire if ignited.

“A well-managed forest can be sustainably harvested with wood all the products we use every day like toilet paper, and still have water quality, taking more carbon out of the atmosphere, have wildlife habitat, recreation-you can have all those things in a well-managed natural system,” said Remuzzi.

Sustainable Solutions practices what they preach by making their current location, which was an old gas station, as environmentally low-impact as possible. They use solar panels, have added pollinator habitats, 300 gallons worth of rainwater collection, rainwater garden and native plants. They are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and plan to offer workshops in the near future.