Beazell Memorial Forest
Beazell Memorial Forest (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Whenever I venture up Kings Valley Road, it’s hard to pass up a visit to Beazell Memorial Forest. A few weeks ago while working on a story in the general vicinity that’s been a particular challenge because of controversy and complexity, I found myself wandering up the road a bit further in search of solitude.

Beazell provides that needed break — for starters, I don’t get a cell phone signal out there so I’m not distracted by texts or emails. But mostly, it’s just to take in the sights and sounds of nature. It gives me an opportunity to clear my mind.

Coincidentally, a day or two later, I came across an article that the Northwest Natural Resource Group had published about Beazell Memorial Forest. In it, the author provides information about Benton County’s stewardship of the 500-plus acres, recent work and future plans.

Not knowing a lot about the namesake of the park, I was most interested in the article’s references to Fred Beazell.

The article, which cites Adam Stebbins, natural resources coordinator for Benton County Natural Areas and Parks, as helping with its writing, shares the story of Beazell and how he purchased the former farmland in the early 1960s with dreams of living there one day with the woman he would marry a few years later, Dolores Anthony

The couple lived for decades in Silicon Valley where they both worked in the tech industry.

“Still, Fred made frequent weekend trips to the land and found immense joy in digging holes and planting seedlings — over 100,000 of them, in fact,” the article states. “When they retired in 1991, Fred and Dolores finally decided to move to the forest and build their dream home there.”

Trees harvested from the property were milled into lumber and used to restore the 1930s barn at Beazell Memorial Forest, according to a Northwest Natural Resource Group article. The barn serves as an education center and public event space. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The couple had been living there for two years when Dolores passed away.

From the article:

“Without children to pass the land to, Fred decided to make the forest a memorial to his beloved wife. When he died in 2000, the 586-acre property and the Beazell house on it were donated to Benton County as Beazell Memorial Forest — the largest gift the county had ever received.”

Beazell had hoped that the forest could “provide habitat for wildlife and be an example to visitors of good land stewardship.”

The rest of the article goes into detail about the property’s management and work yet to be done. I found this interesting:

“The county is also working to return parts of Beazell Memorial Forest to open meadow and oak savanna — which more closely resembles the landscape cultivated by indigeneous tribes in the Willamette Valley since time immemorial,” the article states. “The land encompassing the present-day Benton County is the traditional homeland of the Champinefu band of the Kalapuya, whose descendants are now affiliated with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde.”

A lot more info can be found in the article so if you have the interest, give it a read.

So, thank you Mr. Beazell for your contribution all those years ago. I can definitely see why the man fell in love with the place.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).