Phil Spier protects Costa Rican ecosystem while running lodge
- by crv.staff
- 10:30 AM UTC
Source: Tc Palm
Phil Spier first headed to Costa Rica in the early 1980s, surfboard in hand and wave-riding on his mind.
But during five years in the Central American country, the 1979 Martin County (Florida) High School graduate found a cause greater than hanging ten.
The Costa Rican economy relied heavily on clearing out forests for agriculture and cattle grazing, while one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems felt the brunt of deforestation.
So in 1987, Spier moved to Costa Rica permanently and bought a 150-acre tract of land on the Osa Peninsula atop Cabo Matapalo to begin the slow process of helping the land recover.
Almost 30 years later, the 47-year-old Stuart native continues to embrace and protect the Costa Rican landscape, while running a 750-acre nature lodge named Bosque del Cabo.
“I wanted to have a tiki bar or something, and it kind of turned into this,” Spier said. “We do it by necessity. You live in such a beautiful environment and you need to realize you’re making an impact on it.”
One of the first nature lodges on the peninsula, Bosque del Cabo opened in 1990. For seven years, Spier roughed it in the wilderness with no power, water or main road. He rode his bicycle about 15 miles to the nearest town when he needed refills for the propane tank, a daunting task during rainy season.
But Spier and wife Kim have watched his little bit of paradise blossom into a world-class eco-resort teeming with exotic wildlife.
More than 750 types of trees, 365 species of birds and 117 species of reptiles highlight the vibrant natural beauty surrounding the lodge. Colorful macaws, monkeys and parrots pepper the tree limbs overhead, and it’s not uncommon to spot a puma or ocelot stalking through the Bosque del Cabo grounds.
Word about the lodge has spread as far as Hollywood. Danny DeVito and Julia Roberts have been lodge guests, and Woody Harrelson made an offer to buy the resort about 10 years ago.
But more importantly to Spier, his Costa Rican neighbors have begun recognizing his efforts and following his example. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias gave a press conference at the resort last year as part of the Osa Campaign to preserve the peninsula.
“With the locals’ slash-and-burn mentality, for them to see this work was really good,” Spier said.
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