Cameron Carlson is an ambitious, lively and visionary young person who aims to make a big difference here in Southern Utah. The newest member of our board offers desert-scaping tips and shares his vision for the future in this inspiring Q&A.
Starting with the basics – who are you and what do you do (besides serving on the board for CSU)?
I always try to be positive and make the world a better place. I love learning and experiencing new things, and seeing new places. I have found myself becoming quite the entrepreneur, I’m interested in native plant gardening, real estate, technology, and conservation. I work as a personal tech consultant (for seniors) and a meadow garden consultant.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bountiful, Utah, with many summers in Seattle, Washington.
Have you always been a nature-lover? When did you develop your interest in conservation?
I think deep down I’ve always been a nature lover, inspired by spending time gardening with my mother has a kid. It wasn’t until I moved to Southern Utah and explored out on my own that I truly found my love for nature, the outdoors, and conservation.
What drew you to CSU? What do you like about the organization?
I’ve worked with CSU on and off over the years with volunteering, activism, and community programs. I appreciate that CSU represents so many in our community, vocalizing concerns and advocating for conservation and protection of our natural resources. CSU is the much needed force for good in a time of rampant growth.
How long have you lived in Southern Utah? What do you love about the area?
I’ve lived here for about 8 years now. I love the warmth and positive energy of the red rocks and expansive beautiful quiet desert landscape. The geology, ecology and climate here is fascinating. I love the endless opportunity for outdoor recreation + exploration, where there are always new gems to see and experience amongst the surrounding hills and valleys. I love the abundant opportunities for community involvement and the small world where meaningful connections are made.
What are your favorite outdoor activities? Do you have a favorite trail or spot to enjoy nature?
Hiking, gardening, and sunbathing are my go-to’s. I enjoy most other outdoor recreation and have gotten more into camping and backpacking, I canyoneered and cross country skied for the first time this past year. Nearby, I am particularly fond of the Milcreek/Bone Wash area of Red Cliffs, and Warner Valley/Fort Pierce Wash area.
We hear you’re a bit of an expert in desert-scaping – what’s one tip you’d share with someone looking to start/maintain a water-friendly yard?
BASINS AND BERMS ARE YOUR FRIEND. Hills/mounds drain water away, basins/sunken gardens welcome water thus encouraging moisture retention, cooler and richer soil.
“Run on is right on!” -Brad Lancaster.
See harvestingrainwater.com for more tips!
What would you say are the biggest problems Washington County will face in the next few years. What solutions do you see for those problems?
Increased aridification and water scarcity. We need to prioritize protecting and rejuvenating our watershed through water conservation, active and passive water harvesting, tree planting programs, biodiverse native plant gardens, reducing runoff and chemicals used in the landscape, improving water retention and soil health, and protecting and providing space for ALL our waterways and washes.
When you imagine the best possible version of Southern Utah in 20 years, what do you see?
A Southern Utah that is known for its livability. Extensive electrified public transportation; extensive public lands and watershed conservation and preservation; abundant food gardens; tree lined paths, streets, and communities that are cool, safe, connected, bikeable, and walkable. An affordable place to work, live, and thrive as individuals, families, and community. A supportive, resilient, and climate-aware community that is prepared for extreme flooding, heat waves, wildfire, and others.
Are there any emerging green technologies that are particularly exciting to you?
What would you say is your life motto?
“Leave it Better”
What books would you recommend to people looking to learn more about the environment/conservation/
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster.
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway.
What are your favorite desert plants and animal?
I really love all the desert life. However, favorites probably include the aromatic Tufted Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)- a night blooming perennial, and all the bats, hummingbirds, frogs, and kangaroo rats.