Friday, October 23, 2020
BCRD’s New Director Wants to Create More Access
Mark Davidson has a good background in working with Latinx communities, having served a two-year LDS mission to Colombia in the early 1990s. He also spent six months in Guanajuato, Mexico, while his wife Jenny Emery Davidson was teaching literature there as a Fulbright Scholar.
Monday, September 21, 2020


As a farm boy growing up on a potato and alfalfa farm in Jerome, Mark Davidson identified two jobs that he thought would be the best in the world.

One involved managing a nature preserve. The other was to oversee a recreation program as did his mentor Mike Pepper who managed the Jerome County Recreation District basketball, baseball and soccer  programs that young Davidson competed in.

Davidson realized the first dream in 2000 when he and his wife—The Community Library’s executive director Jenny Emery Davidson--left Salt Lake City where he had worked with the Division of Wildlife Resources to manage Silver Creek Preserve. There, he said, he got to fish every day after cleaning outhouses and gaining experience talking to the community about conservation.

He will get to try out the second dream job on Oct. 12 when he becomes the new director of the Blaine County Recreation District.

On that day Davidson will step out of a 20-year career working with the Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited and into a program that manaages a huge chunk of local residents’ lifestyles from the Nordic trails around Galena Lodge to the Aquatic Center in Hailey.

“In light of what is happening in the world, I felt very strongly about becoming more involved in my own community,” said Davidson. “Watching our community change with this pandemic, I realized that there are a handful of organizations that shape our community and make it a great place to be here. And the BCRD’s one of those.”

Davidson says his involvement with Jerome Recreation District served him well as it gave him the opportunity to interact with migrant children and others from different backgrounds while teaching him the value of competition, sportsmanship, integrity and living an active life.

“I’m super excited for the opportunity to work in our community. The amount of people and influence this organization has on our community is invaluable, and I want to honor that and lead the BCRD in a way that’s respectful.”

The BCRD has a strong foundation on which to build, what with its “incredible resources, seasoned staff, solid finances and committed board,” he added. Now, he wants to bring more diverse people and perspectives to the BCRD story.

“I’m really excited to see how we can reach more members of our community, to create opportunities for everyone to have access to outdoor recreation and other things BCRD offers. The BCRD is poised to advance equity and inclusion here at a critical time and to help more people thrive through healthy activities in the natural world and with each other—something that’s even more critical now as we continue to navigate the pandemic and the disruption it has caused.”

Davidson worked for The Nature Conservancy in Hailey for 18 years, during which time he was involved in land and water transactions and restoration projects on the Upper Salmon River. He also collaborated with ranchers and farmers and other land owners to help protect the land in areas like the Pahsimeroi through conservation and regenerative agriculture practices.

“When I became Central Idaho Conservation Manager, I remember taking part in a conference introducing the Nature Conservancy to the ranchers. It rained that day so a lot of ranchers showed up. And, at the end of the day, one lit into me and the Nature Conservancy. I thought I was done—that I wouldn’t get anywhere with them. But a few days later Glenn Elzinga, who raises grass fed organic beef near Salmon, said he wanted to work with me. And, through that, I met a whole network of ranchers … We did some amazing projects involving water transactions and public access that created avenues we hadn’t thought of.”

Davidson also directed the Idaho Water Project for Trout Unlimited, overseeing projects that encouraged smart water management while meeting the needs of agriculture, industry and fish.

Davidson is no stranger to the BCRD. He’s a fierce competitor in BCRD’s basketball league and an occasional user of the BCRD Fitworks gym. Last year he skied Quigley Nordic four times a week, heading out the door at 6 in the morning to ski by headlamp.

He is determined to try to get out on the Nordic trails every day this year.

“My favorite Nordic trail is Billy’s Bridge. My grandfather built a cabin in the Boulder View summer home area so I spent time there every summer with that view of the Boulder Mountains burned into my mind. And, when I was a kid, my Mom used to dig out and clean out Russian John hot springs so we could jump in.”

Davidson will have plenty of help in forging the BCRD of the future. Former Director Jim Keating, who stepped down this summer to return to the tech world, has said he can call him for advice any time.

“Jim said his time at BCRD was the best thing he has done professionally, said Davidson.

And Davidson is already brainstorming ideas with his wife, whom he met on a Shoshone BLM fire crew. He worked up the courage to ask her out on a trip to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee while working the Elevator Fire near Malad.

“I have a lot I can learn from her, as she has a good way about managing, leading an organization and providing inclusivity,” said Davidson. “I think the biggest thing I can learn from her is how to maintain enthusiasm and remember that we’re working at these places because we care about what they mean.”

Morgan Buckert, BCRD’s associate director of development, said Davidson was chosen from 40 applicants in a nationwide search. The final three candidates all lived in the Wood River Valley or had a local connection to it.

“Mark’s an amazing guy. We’re lucky to have him,” she said. “He has a strong commitment to our community. He’s an avid Nordic skier and user of other BCRD amenities, and we’re excited to have him pick up the reins.”




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