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Film about David Douglas brings Oregon and Scotland forestry communities together
(L-R) Syd House, State Forester Marvin Brown, Lois Leonard, Doug Magedanz, Gordon Mason, David Milholland
Members of the Finding David Douglas team and Marvin Brown
April 20, 2010
Contact: Kevin Weeks (503) 945-7427
Walk through the forests in Scotland, and you are likely to see many similarities to western Oregon. It is not by coincidence, but the legacy of an ambitious scientist named David Douglas who achieved amazing things in a brief 35-year life.
Raising awareness about the life and accomplishments of David Douglas through production of a documentary film – Finding David Douglas - has been the passion for several years of a team of researchers from Scotland, England and Oregon; Syd House, conservator with the Forestry Commission Scotland, botanist Dr. Gordon Mason and film producer/historian Lois Leonard with the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.
In early April, the team working on the documentary project toured the Oregon Department of Forestry complex and spoke with State Forester Marvin Brown about the forest heritage shared by Oregon and Scotland thanks to the research of the Scottish scientist.

Digital Audio
Syd House, conservator with the Forestry Commission Scotland, offers his views on similarities and links between Scotland and Oregon                 ( 1:15  881Kb Mp3 file)
Syd House shares thoughts on what he would like the film to communicate about the impact of  Douglas' work on England and North America                (1:33  1.1Mb Mp3 file)

Two continents share a forest legacy
David Douglas travelled to North America three times, including an exploration of the Pacific Northwest less than three decades after the arrival of Lewis & Clark. Douglas transported seeds from almost 200 species from the Northwest home to Scotland.  Douglas identified the tree species of ponderosa pine, Sitka spruce and Pseudotsuga Menziesii – better known throughout the world as the Douglas-fir, the iconic tree species much identified with Oregon.
Scotland thrives with Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce forests along with salal, California poppy, the red flowering current, the broad leaf maple, the vine maple, and the Oregon Grape, Yellow skunk Cabbage, and wild iris (to name a few) thanks to the work of David Douglas.

Digital Audio
Dr Gordon Mason explains the significance of Douglas’ botanical impact on Scotland. (0:30 342Kb Mp3 file)

The Film: Finding David Douglas
‘Finding David Douglas’ is a documentary film currently in production which tells the story of the Scottish explorer. The film project is lead by the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission in partnership with the US Forest Service, Forestry Commission Scotland and Parks Canada
The film project recently showed a work- in-progress viewing of ‘Finding David Douglas’ to a crowd of 300 guests at the World Forestry Center in Portland. Production work continues on the film.
The film’s producer, Lois Leonard, talks about the project ( 0:29 336Kb Mp3 file)

David Douglas 1799-1834
Scottish explorer David Douglas 1799-1834 Photo source: Wikipedia
David Douglas was born in Scone, Scotland on June 25, 1799. Botany and plants became a passion for Douglas, who at 24 received a commission to study the plant life of North America and return botanical samples to England.
Following a brief tour of the eastern U.S., Douglas was given a broader mission to document the Pacific Northwest using the resources of the Hudson’s Bay Company based at Fort Vancouver (today’s location of Vancouver, Washington). Douglas toured the northwest in 1825 and launched an exploration of the Willamette River and Umpqua River in 1826, collecting samples of many native plant species. Following a journey of probably 10,000 miles on foot from Fort Vancouver to York Factory on Hudson’s Bay in eastern Canada, Douglas returned his samples to England in 1827.
Following a bout of poor health in London, Douglas’ third and final mission to North America lasted from 1829-1834, taking him to British Columbia, Oregon, California and Hawaii. While in Oregon, Douglas became the first European to attempt an ascent of Mount Hood.
Douglas’ final botanical mission took him to the large island of Hawaii. Little is known of Douglas’ final day. On July 12, 1834 – after receiving warnings from local residents about wild cattle in the area – Douglas was found dead at Kaluakauka, the apparent victim of a cattle attack. The legendary scientist’s body was still guarded by his trusted companion Billy, a West Highland white terrier, who waited patiently nearby. Douglas was buried in a common grave in Honolulu.

Documentary Project Partners
Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission 
United States Forest Service
Forestry Commission Scotland 
Scottish Forestry Trust
World Forestry Center, Portland
Oregon Forest Resources Institute 
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Mission Houses Museum
Hudson Bay Company Archives
Fort St. James National Historic Site
York Factory National Historic Site
For addition information about supporting the Finding David Douglas project, including receiving an Oregon Cultural Trust tax credit for donations, contact the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.