Rebecca Davidson. Middle name Fjord.
Director, Southern Rockies Region
What did you do prior to working at NFF?
Before NFF, I worked first in natural resource and wildlife management, then in water resource policy and management. I spent about ten years working at the Arizona Game and Fish Department; initially in the avian and native fish programs, respectively (endangered species policy and management), then in habitat management and federal partner coordination (i.e., wildlife management on federal lands). I also coordinated a program to oversee in-house NEPA/ESA review for projects implemented by the AZGFD.
After AZGFD, I worked about eight years at the Salt River Project, a water and power utility serving the greater Phoenix metro area. I worked in Water Rights and Contracts. My work entailed water rights negotiation and settlements, partnership and relationship development, and more specifically development of watershed and forest restoration initiatives (including the Northern Arizona Forest Fund). There is no question that working in water in the arid southwest is never boring!
During this time, I also finished a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School. Through VLS I engaged with the Climate Law classes and attended the COP20 and COP21 United Nations Convention on Climate Change annual negotiations; first as a student and then as a Teaching Assistant, including during last year’s momentous adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement. This work continues to be personally and professionally important for me, as I maintain this relationship.
In a long distant time ago, in undergrad, I worked in the Aquatic Ecology Lab with the famous and very loved Dr. Dean Blinn at Northern Arizona University, where I grew to specialize in diatom, insect and algae identification in efforts to study lower-trophic-level interactions in the Colorado River – a system now drastically changed by the Glen Canyon Dam. This is when I swore I would forever be a stream entomologist. The life of the river for me. Although my career has taken its turns, to this day, I love being on the water…
What inspired you to work for our National Forests?
I have always been inspired by, and thoughtful of, the vast and wild National Forest lands that I have been surrounded by growing up in Arizona. In my career I have enjoyed the challenges of working on projects and programs on those National Forests, and on management of watershed and ecosystem resources that National Forests protect. The move to NFF was really quite logical for me…getting work done on the ground that you can see, touch, and smell, that benefits wildlife, habitat, local communities and downstream cities, and that is real and tangible. For me that is the ultimate inspiration.
What sorts of things will you be working on at the NFF?
I am so fortunate to carry on the work in Arizona to grow the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, engaging cities, businesses and other stakeholders in the benefits of improved forest and watershed conditions. Then to initiate the Southern Arizona Forest Fund, working in concert with utilities and businesses in the Tucson area, and engaging the many on-the-ground organizations and groups already leveraging efforts for ecosystem and biodiversity benefits. Then, to work in Colorado; on some of the highest elevation tundra peaks, in wetlands and meadows, and in forested iconic landscapes, and with vital collaborative partnerships.
In all these efforts, I look forward to working with local communities, stakeholders, and businesses to support and implement important restoration projects benefiting lands and water resources, wildlife and habitat, local communities, and vibrant economy. I am also excited to assist on NFF’s water and climate programs.
What is your favorite National Forest memory?
I grew up in Tucson Arizona, camping in National Forests with my ‘hippie’ parents and our large cadre of ‘hippie’ friends. Some of my favorite memories are from times camping in Gardner Canyon on the Coronado National Forest, where us kids roamed free, climbed and hid on the sandstone rock outcrops, stomped in the delicate ephemeral streams, breathed in the desert air, and generally caused mischief of the wild kind.
What National Forest would you like to visit?
I have always wanted to visit the far away wildlands of Alaska’s National Forests. Fish, birds, elk, wolves, bears…(and even mosquitoes), I would love to visit the Chugach and Tongass National Forests.