Zena Forest and Farm

Section Four

Conservation and Restoration at Zena

Lauren Henken’s chapter narrates the story of Sara Deumling, who, along with her late husband Dieter, previously managed the portion of Zena Forest now owned by Willamette University.  The chapter relates the events that led Deumling’s practice of naturgemässe waldwirtschaft, a German phrase roughly translated as “close-to-nature forestry.” Through Sarah’s story, this chapter aims to explore and understand how a dynamic sense of place develops and changes, and what that denotes about one’s connection and interaction with that place.

Philip Colburn and Kevin Bernstein's chapter begins in 2007, when the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) purchased a conservation easement for Zena, providing an allowance for a third party to purchase an interest from BPA for the privilege of using the land, provided that conservation-based land management techniques were put into use.  As Bernstein and Colburn explain, unlike many conservation efforts, the BPA’s conservation effort did not involve a specific sense of place—an emotional connection and desire to protect the area.  The BPA was pressured to begin making amends for environmental damage by a shift in the political climate caused by the entry of environmental conservation into mainstream politics.  This chapter examines whether conservation efforts may be successful without a definite connection to the area by the protector.

Since purchasing Zena Forest and Farm, Willamette University has used the property in many different ways. As Erica Jensen and Erik Sandersen show, through restoration, farming, outreach, and education, Zena Forest and Farm has served both Willamette and Salem community members in a variety of ways. The diversity and quantity of activities and participants has increased since first acquiring the property, and at times, the sheer amount of activity at the property creates tension. Jensen and Sandersen's chapter looks at how those involved with Zena are working to create a changing, collective sense of place that accommodates everyone and everything involved in the property.

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The 2011 session of the Zena Sustainability Institute, which brings students from Tokyo International University to Zena Farm and Forest at Willamette. 

Photo courtesy of Erica Jensen