At-Large Director and Christmas Tree Farmer Champions Rural Waterways

Roger in garden

Director Fantz in the garden at Trillium Forest Farm

“I enjoy rivers and being on the water,” says Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District at-large director, Roger Fantz. “The Clackamas River and it’s tributaries have had a huge influence on my life and I’m determined to do my part to give back in a way that truly supports water quantity and quality in our County.” The newest of the District’s seven directors, Fantz brings this passion for water to his position on the board of directors. He has been a Clackamas County resident for over 40 years.

Fantz shared that he was initially introduced to the District in 2010 at a local community meeting by then candidate Mike Weinberg, now a Director Emeritus with the District. “He observed that we were landowners with a stake in conservation policy here in Clackamas County and invited us to come on down and find out more about the District’s goals and projects,” says Fantz. He became an Associate Director in January 2011 and was appointed to fill Weinberg’s at-large seat in 2013. Fantz officially ran for his position in 2014 and was elected to a 4-year term by the citizens of Clackamas County.

An Oregon native born in Silverton and raised in Portland, Fantz attended Portland State University and received both a bachelors degree in mathematics and his teaching certificate. He taught math in the Reynolds School District in East Multnomah County for 30 years at the high school and junior high school level, and also coached a variety of school sports teams. He retired from teaching in 2003.

Growing up, Fantz always enjoyed water activities and when it came time to make his first home, he settled in Paradise Park right on the Clackamas River. It was there he met his wife Cathy, to whom he attributes much of his motivation and success as a conservationist and organic agricultural producer. Together they purchased a 40-acre property in the Eagle Creek area, designed and built a log home, and started what is now known as Trillium Forest Farm.

Christmas Trees: Careful stewardship helps to carve out unique niche

Christmas tree management at Trillium Tree Farm

Christmas tree management at Trillium Forest Farm

Trillium Forest Farm boasts a bountiful vegetable garden, an orchard, 30 acres of mixed, mature forest, and a few acres of Christmas trees. “The farm isn’t certified organic,” Fantz notes, “But our commitment to clean water and our desire to keep herbicides and pesticides out of the watershed means we follow organic, sustainable practices.” This philosophy extends beyond fruits and veggies to include Christmas trees, something that really sets Trillium Forest Farm apart. “Our trees are ‘organic,'” says Fantz, “although there are no specific rules or certification currently offered for Christmas trees.” Naturally shaped, hand trimmed, and grown free of chemicals, the Nobel firs grown on their farm are naturally more disease and pest resistant than other species. “We keep natural cover on the ground between the trees and mow two or three times a year,” he shared. “The native pasture supports beneficial insects and prevents run off and erosion, a big issue on many tree farms.”

There’s not a high demand for organic Christmas trees in Clackamas County, and selling trees wholesale is a difficult undertaking if one wants to turn a profit, so these special trees are shipped each year to California where they’re sold directly to eager consumers at a premium. “It’s not a huge operation,” says Fantz, “but we enjoy the work, the relationships we’ve made over the years, and the satisfaction of doing what we were told couldn’t be done.”

Water Issues Drive Activism

Director Fantz enjoying a dip in the creek

Director Fantz enjoying a dip in the North Fork of Eagle Creek.

“Water quality concerns drove my interest in working with the District,” says Fantz. “I believe we have an obligation to preserve habitat for wildlife and to view nature as an equal partner as we work and play in our communities.” Fantz values the partnership the District has with all of the watershed councils in the County, and with different water service providers and programs in the area. “The District works to improve water quality with its many programs including the pesticide reduction and septic system repair projects. We also work with private landowners to remove fish barriers and restore riparian vegetation to protect and help cool our streams.”

“Being on the District board of directors has been a satisfying experience,” Fantz shared. “Our manager is amazing and the staff and board work well together, something I haven’t always experienced.” Fantz looks forward to a long and fruitful tenure on the board. “The work the District is doing has a positive influence on all of our lives. I’m glad to being doing my part to help protect our natural resources.”

 

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