Grant Helps Grand Teton National Park Re-sod Historic Dude Ranch Cabins

A grant from the National Park Foundation will allow designers to come up with sustainable roofing to replace sod roofs on historic cabins in Grand Teton National Park. NPS photo.

Funding through the National Park Foundation's 2012 Impact Grant program will enable Grand Teton National Park crews to replace sod roofs on historic cabins at the Bar BC Dude Ranch with a grass system that's more resilient to the weather.

This project, “Greening the Bar BC: New Green Roofs for Old Sod Cabins in Grand Teton National Park,” is part of the Foundation’s Impact Grant program that gives parks the critical financial support needed to transform innovative, yet underfunded ideas into successful in-park programs and intiatives.

“Grand Teton National Park continually looks for fresh ways to incorporate sustainable design into new construction,” said park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs. “This project proposes to integrate sustainability into the treatment of the park’s historic structures as well, and the Bar BC Dude Ranch—home of Struthers Burt, one of the valley’s most prominent conservation thinkers—makes a logical choice for such a novel approach in the preservation of an historic structure.”

The $9,200 grant will pay for installation of a roofing system that involves grass, "geofabrics" to prevent water infiltration, and "data loggers to detect water infiltration through the roof, and lightweight modern building materials to avoid adding too much weight to the delicate structures," according to Katherine Longfield, the park's cultural specialist.

"The idea of using modern green roofs on historic cabins is innovative in and of itself however. We don't know of anywhere else where this is being tried," she adds. "We modeled it off of an archeological conservation technique where conservators 'green cap' fragile archeological walls rather than cement cap them as they have found that the organic material can be more beneficial for the wall than cement."

Grand Teton will partner with the University of Pennsylvania's Advanced Conservation Lab to design and install green roofs utilizing modern technology on historically sod cabins and study the performance and success of this roofing system as a preservation treatment.

During the coming summer, students, faculty, and park staff will work collaboratively to test this novel approach to stewardship on one of Grand Teton's few nationally significant properties, the Bar BC Dude Ranch. If successful, the park will have identified a sustainable, low-cost, historically accurate roofing system for over 40 structures slated for preservation. This approach may be applicable elsewhere across the National Park System.