Faces of Greenbelt – Davis Family

Tara, Kent, Asa, and Carmella Davis

Tara, Kent, Asa, and Carmella Davis

Meet Kent, Tara, Asa and Carmella Davis

The Davis Family enjoys the tranquility and beauty that country life brings in rural Linn County. Kent and Tara value work on their property off Peoria Road and engage children Asa,15 and Carmella, almost 2, in gardening, bee keeping, tending to fruit trees and their chickens too.

Tara serves as the Calapooia Watershed Council’s Executive Director, reaching out to hundreds of Linn County residents to improve watershed health from salmon habitat to water quality projects. Kent is an instructor in OSU’s Wood Science Program specializing in student projects related to secondary wood products. He is also an accomplished woodworker. The couple pursues experiential learning in their own lives, and educating their community for deep understanding and appreciation of natural resources. Kent heralds from rural western Montana and Tara is a multi-generation Oregonian. True westerners and adventuresome at heart, a good question for the couple is where they are planning their next international travel. Yet, the couple’s value for sense of place is evident, which is why they support Greenbelt’s protection of our land and water resources; they witness the critical ecological balance supporting the wildlife, fisheries and bird life seen daily in their rural neighborhood.

Tell us about your own background in the outdoors. What inspired you to spend time on trails, in rivers, or mountains?

(T) As a young girl, our family enjoyed fishing the Deschutes and visiting our cabin. I am still nostalgic about the smells and textures of Central Oregon after years of playing in the volcanic soils among the pines. Later, we changed our weekend destinations to the headwaters of the Rogue, where we enjoyed a little cabin in Union Creek right on the river and a popular side-spur of the Pacific Crest Trail. When I wasn’t fishing, I’d admire the hikers who I believed at the time were trekking either to Mexico or Canada depending on their direction. Even in high school I’d have my parents drop me off in these woods and I would pretend like I was Thoreau for a week, stoking the fire, writing and keeping warm in the snow. This is where my existential appreciation for the wild and outdoors really ramped up and carried me in to my existing career.

(K) I grew up on a ranch in Western Montana outside of Troy, and we were surrounded by protected lands- the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area. We spent little time on trails, but rather explored rivers and mountains in a rugged, adventuresome but calculated way. It was less of an “inspired use” or recreational enjoyment, but rather a way of life. I continue to enjoy the outdoors with Tara and family, mainly camping and fly fishing while the kids hang out on the bank.

What parts of the natural world most resonate with you?

(T) The part of the natural world that resonates with me most is its interface with the unnatural or built environment. The resiliency of nature to exist among humans- wildlife, birds and fish just outside our doors in the fringe- is awe inspiring to me on a daily basis. Actually living in a rural environment now, and striving to existing in an “indoor-outdoor” house where nature outside our big windows IS the art in the house (I try not to distract with art or paint from the outdoor view), I now understand nature in a very intimate way. Growing up I lived in town, and we would “go to the mountains”. Now, I have an intimate connection to nature in my home, and it makes me want to be more responsible about my relationship with it, like how I garden, mow, plant, recreate and enjoy my space. Life isn’t black and white like when I was a kid, now I live in the gray area, the interface between people and forest, and I love it. We are surrounded by private timber and farmland, and I do feel nervous that nature could suddenly experience disruption from management. I appreciate Greenbelt’s tools to protect these kinds of special spaces, these ecological gems in an otherwise managed environment, in a personal way now.

(K) I’m a botanist and plant physiologist by background, and I’m a wood worker building furniture for friends, family (Tara commissions me for several household needs) and by order from http://www.daviswoodworks.com/images/  – so I appreciate the species composition in forests, from a wood sourcing perspective but also from a botany-geek appreciation for the diversity of flora.

Now that you have a young family, what important values do you want to pass along to your children?

(T) I want our children (Asa is my teenage stepson, Carmella my first born) to love bugs, catch snakes in the yard, learn neotropical migratory bird patterns of the spring from watching the bird feeder, and know that winter has officially come at the first loud breeding calls of the Great Horned owls living in our surrounding woods. Just a sense of place, it is really simple. Once you seriously value and understand the small nuances of your place and its seasons, it’s like gold, and the kids will carry that with them forever, no matter where they are.

(K) With a teenager in the home now, I appreciate the value of getting outdoors away from media. We value hard work and serious pleasure. So we play hard too. I want my children to value both, and have enough self-discipline to know when to “unplug” and get outside for fun or exercise.

Talk about some of your favorite trails or memories of outdoor adventures…

(T) Funny, I actually always wanted to learn how to get off trails. As a kid I looked out into the Rogue River National Forest and said “how could I just wander off into that forest without getting lost?” It seemed like a wall, I wanted to break through. So probably my most valuable personal experience with outdoor adventure was simply being a hydrology technician for Bureau of Land Management where I covered over a hundred miles of ephemeral drainages and large streams categorizing the streams, habitat and charting new, unmapped tribs. I learned orientation skills, got lost a few times, but learned to trust my honing skills and maps off trails, and I learned so much about watershed geomorphology!

(K) A favorite trail memory is when the family hiked the well-groomed and expansive trail system of tropical rainforests in Costa Rica last spring 2014. I was the packhorse, and it was hot, toting a baby- but we loved the teamwork, laughter and birds and wildlife.

Tell us about why you became involved with Greenbelt Land Trust!

(T) I don’t think I have a simple Greenbelt Land Trust membership story. In short, as the director of a local watershed council in Linn County, I keep finding opportunities to involve GLT as a local partner in protection, outreach and conservation awareness. It can feel kind of lonely in this neck of the woods- there aren’t a lot of conservation groups working in Linn County compared to other areas in the Willamette. We need more partnerships to get large-scale conservation accomplished. As a citizen, and as a watershed enthusiast, I really value the presence of a land trust as a partner, offering amazing tools to fulfill the greater public good of protecting open spaces and critical habitats. Plus, the organization has a phenomenal project track record, is a stable organization, and is very loved by its membership.