2021 Fellows

Tanya Harvey



Tanya grew up in New England, the daughter of avid gardeners. She’s been in love with nature, especially plants, as long as she can remember. As a child, she spent as much time out of doors as possible, driven to learn all she could about the natural world. She particularly recalls going on a nature hike and wanting to be like the naturalist leading it. She revealed artistic talent at an early age, filling notebook after notebook with sketches and watercolors. Although she obtained a BA in Mathematics from Dartmouth College in 1980, it was her early passions that led to her career as a multimedia artist and designer who is inspired by nature and the outdoors.

She has held a succession of paid and volunteer positions in graphic design and publishing. She sells and displays her art, craft, and design work on tanyaharveydesign.com, and for many years sold her work at the annual Portland Audubon Wild Arts Festival. Lately, however, she’s too busy for the festival. Since 2012 she’s been employed by OregonFlora to work on the three-volume Flora of Oregon. She was responsible for design, layout, and editing of the two volumes already produced and is now working on the third. She also contributes photos and some illustrations. Many of her photos and species lists appear on the OregonFlora website (oregonflora.org). Tanya’s knowledge of the flora of Oregon in general and the Western Cascades in particular is among the most comprehensive of any botanist in the state. She edited every treatment thus far submitted for inclusion in the Flora of Oregon, evaluating it from two standpoints: that of an end user of the Flora and that of a reviewer or contributor. She also does editing and layout for the remaining volumes of the Flora of North America.

In 1987 she met her husband, Jim Babson, in California. They moved to Oregon in 1992 and settled on 55 spectacular acres in Fall Creek, where Jim renovated a fixer-upper house. Much of the land is in a semi-natural condition, and Tanya is lovingly restoring its native vegetation, with special attention to the oak and grassland habitats. She also maintains a fenced garden, which she has filled with woodland and rock garden species, many of them native. She worked with the Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council (MFWWC) to obtain funding for her restoration, and she recently hosted a MFWWC tour for her neighbors.

Tanya joined the Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO) in 1999 (soon after arriving in the southern Willamette Valley) and became a life member in 2004. As a member of the Emerald Chapter, her contributions include the following:

• Produced the monthly NPSO Bulletin (including both editing and layout) for nearly nine years (from April 2000 through 2008), producing almost 100 print issues
• Designed posters, t-shirts, and more for the state board and her chapter, including for the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower Festival from 1998 to 2005
• Chaired the field trip committee and served as the Friday night speaker for the 2008 annual meeting hosted by Emerald Chapter
• Presented 16 slide talks to various NPSO chapters and another 17 talks on plants to other organizations in Oregon
• Led over 20 field trips for numerous annual meetings and various NPSO chapters and botany hikes for a number of other organizations
• Conducted a rare plant survey for Citizen’s Rare Plant Watch

Soon after joining NPSO, Tanya became active in a number of other local botanical and conservation organizations. She joined the local chapter of the North America Butterfly Association, edited the newsletter for the Eugene Hardy Plant Group and served as President of the Emerald Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society.

Throughout all that, Tanya has taken every opportunity to botanize and photograph the Western Cascades, the oldest part of the Cascade Range. In fact, she so loves these mountains that she and Jim were married atop one! Having taken over a thousand hikes in the Western Cascades solo or with fellow plant lovers, she’s a supremely authoritative field trip leader. During her explorations she has found a number of uncommon species, which she collected for the OSU Herbarium. Since 2010, she has maintained a popular website, westerncascades.com, where her jaw-dropping photographs accompany more than 300 information-packed trip reports. It also includes descriptions and her personal plant lists for numerous botanically interesting locations. Eventually, she plans to develop the information from each of the 150 or so locations she has botanized into a complete field guide to the Western Cascade flora. Her book has been on hold since she started working on the Flora of Oregon.

Tanya’s Mountain Plants of the Western Cascades website and blog is an incredibly useful and well-organized resource for all wildflower enthusiasts. Through stunning photos, captivating natural history stories, and expert botanical knowledge, she brings the flora of this region of Oregon alive for a broad audience. When I bought acreage near hers, Tanya connected me with MFWWC’s Restoration Projects manager, which advanced my savanna restoration. Tanya identified multiple native and introduced species and gave me seeds for native plants. It is a privilege to nominate Tanya for this honor she richly deserves.
—Karl Anderson, Emerald Chapter