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Mountain man fights local government to keep nature school natural

Fox News

A self-styled ‘Mountain Man’ who left modern conveniences for the backwoods of North Carolina decades ago is butting heads with local officials who say his forest compound isn’t up to code – and he may have television to blame.

Eustace Conway, who owns and operates a school that teaches hundreds of people how to live closer to nature, received a cease and desist letter from county officials who say his buildings don’t meet code.

“Basically I’m living like the American heritage pattern of all our ancestors and the modern world isn’t, and they don’t know how to accept me,” said Conway.

But Conway says the county has inspected the property before and told him everything was fine. Some believe the county only took notice after Conway appeared on the History Channel’s “Mountain Men.”

“This is supposed to be the land of the free. Government is supposed to help people.”

– Eustace Conway

Everything in Conway’s Turtle Island Preserve is organic and made from nature. The preserve’s website notes the property’s buildings are “carved literally from the wilderness.”

But the naturalness of the property is precisely what has sparked county officials to take notice. Officials say unless Conway can meet building codes and safety regulations, the camp and school will be closed.

“If we complied to everything the county is requesting, we would cease to exist as we are,” one Turtle Island staffer said. “We are inherently primitive.”

The county says it is just looking to fulfill its duty to protect public health and safety.

“The primary concern of the county is that these visitors are in and out of these buildings which were neither permitted nor inspected for compliance with the NC building code,” said the Watauga County Planning and Inspections Department.

“This is supposed to be the land of the free. Government is supposed to help people, protect their individual liberties and freedom — that’s not what’s happening here,” said Conway.

Conway says he plans to fight to keep his nature school the way it was built.

“I’m not confident I can win it. I’m confident I ought to win it,” said Conway. “This is something I spent this much of my life, I don’t have much left.”

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17 Responses to Mountain man fights local government to keep nature school natural

  1. diggerdan says:

    This guy must have had some money to buy 500 acres but this guy is what america is supposed to be about. Amerikans have been taken so far off track that they do not want people to live a good honest lifestyle – these phoney law maker sob`s cannot make any money off the good people like this mountain man. It is the people like this guy that scares the crap out of the law makers and those in false power. This guy has the power to teach and to live with nature – something most amerikans have forgotten about…………Good video Mark S.!!!!

    • rhumstruck says:

      Hey Digger, 20 years ago (when Conway bought his land) that property was cheap. Not any more 🙁
      I’m thinking he paid about $250-300 per acre then.
      Hell, the timber on the land was worth more than the land. This guy knew what he wanted and for all we know he may have taken a $1500 inheritance to finance his dream. Eustace did just that! So now that he’s got it all built to his dream, the faschist state has to rob him. Screw that!

  2. Smilardog says:

    His final words were… “If I have to die for this thing, I don’t mind!”
    Words all free men live by. What better more noble thing is there to die for but your freedom. Mr Conway, I don’t mind dying for my freedom either.

    We should all storm that county building code office with phone calls in support for that Mr Conway’s freedom to live free. We are getting pretty good at that, Don’tcha Know? I think I will first thing in the morning

  3. Leita says:

    Read about him before – remarkable person.
    Kind of like the salt of the earth. Rare find to identify so with
    nature and a simplistic life. But, the Stalinist’s can’t have one
    not needing them or society. Trying to steal his property and soul.
    Property around Boone is expensive. Besides, in a way, he is
    teaching survival skills.

  4. brad says:

    Code is policy. Not law. Ask for a copy of a contract Held-In-Due-Course.

  5. brad says:

    All law is contract. Move for dismissal for “failure of consideration”.

  6. brad says:

    No consent no jurisdiction. I am not that legal fiction!!!

  7. animan245 says:

    The local control freaks claim they are just looking out for the safety of others. Bullshit, i see another fascist move to use the “law” to steal a person’s land.

    I’d like to offer a little suggestion. The guy should simply “post a warning” (such as “Beware of Primitive Structures”, or whatever) for all to see so they know what they are getting into. A good warning could be all he needs to keep these fascists off his case.

  8. PJ London says:

    Designate the buildings as a “Museum” and have the visitors who stay overnight “Camp” in the woods.
    The government will still come after him with all their codes. ordinances and regulations, but make them prove that they apply to the buildings and grounds.

  9. rhumstruck says:

    I’m in! Heres the info from the county web page.,

    Watauga County Planning and Inspections:
    Contact Us
    Mailing Address:
    Watauga County Planning and Inspections
    331 Queen Street, Suite A
    Boone, NC 28607

    • Smilardog says:

      Here is the email that I just sent to

      Greeting Joe Furman

      I am writing this letter in support of Eustace Conway. Right now, America is dividing it self between Liberty minded people against tyrannical government. Just about everywhere we look tyrannical government is encroaching on the American people and their God given rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Though most have been a sleep to what has been going on, they are now awakening and beginning to draw the line in the sand against government over stepping it boundaries.

      Let me just make this short. Why don’t you turn this problem with Eustace Conway into a good thing. For once do what is the right thing. Show that you are for the people, and not against the people. You do know that people are taking note of what government leaders/servants are doing to infringe on the right of the people. You do know that that is called treason and some day when all government will be held accountable by the people they represent is coming soon.

      Turn what Eustace Conway is doing into something the county you serve could be proud of and promote. Everything government touches doesn’t have to be a bad thing… Prove it! Be a servant that the people are proud of.

      Example: Our family has a two story miners cabin in the Colorado Rockies that was built over 110 years ago by gold miners, and was definitely not built to code. The timber foundation was rotting and the cabin leaned quite a bit, and wouldn’t have made it through a couple more winters. It had been in our family since the late 50’s, though abandoned, we wanted to restore it. The town/city manager came out and spent half a day with us (because, he cares and is for the people). We went over the whole building, talked, and came up with a workable plan, brought it before the town counsel, with his blessing to the project. Now, the cabin is twice the size, totally remodeled, fully livable, and the treasured jewel of the town. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t stop and and line-up their family and friends to take a picture in front of that cabin, and it is now prominately displayed in most magazines and articles about the history or to promote tourism in the state. This was completed over a 4 years period with one building permit, and one inspection. If my town/county can do that, your county can do that also. It all boils down to are you for the people, or against the people.

      Sorry, for not writing more elegant and intellectual like, but I just woke up and my mind is not quite awake yet.

      Be Blessed and Be a Blessing, Joe

  10. Diogenes says:

    The paradigm of government simply must change from the current to something far less invasive, intrusive, and meddlesome.

    This whole line of utter BS regarding ‘codes’ should NEVER come into play, unless and/or until a property is changing hands, and the buyer desires to know the status of the buildings, and the grounds.

    Otherwise, any person entering upon private property for whatever reason, should assume that his presence is purely by his own choice, accepts the liability for a happenstance, and unless it may be proved that the owner was intentionally negligent, no legal action may ensue.

  11. Leita says:

    Was wondering if a donation site could be set up to assist with updating
    property to code regulations – the gov is not there to help but to degrade
    unless your one of the fortunate ones with five or more illegitimate
    children. If a bus monitor who was not doing her job can collect thousands
    of dollars to retire on then certainly a genuinely productive member of
    polite society can do the same.

  12. diggerdan says:

    I can bet that there more than a few building code violations at the WH and other buildings there in DC. I have heard that there a some bad water and sewer pipes in the in the white house for just a few problems they should be having under their nit picky microscope that I remember reading about a year or so ago.

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