About Veva

Veva Stansell (1929-2017), a life-long Curry County resident and retired U.S. Forest Service botanist, was widely-known and respected for her contributions to understanding and conserving the extraordinary botanical resources of the Siskiyou Mountains.

Veva grew up in Pistol River, where her family, the Ismerts, had owned the Sundown Ranch for several decades. She spent much of her youth on horseback, chasing livestock, enjoying family camping trips, and riding to swimming holes. She loved the outdoors.

Veva's interest in botany was first nurtured by her mother, Elma Ismert, who had learned about the usefulness of native plants from local Indians.

In the 1960s, when Veva’s sons were young, she began studying botany as a hobby and learned more about native plants unique to the Siskiyou Mountains, first relying on the help of local experts (including Walk Schroeder and Fred Bowen) and then reaching out to university professors.

As her self-taught expertise grew, Veva volunteered for the Forest Service from 1975 to 1989, helping with native plant surveys.

Veva at her home in Pistol River
Family camping trips on horseback became botanical expeditions. She regularly sent plant specimens to the OSU herbarium for accessioning, corresponded with academic botanists about unusual finds, and provided plant lists for the Oregon Flora Atlas as a regional coordinator.

During this period, Veva also worked on the botanical studies that lead to the designation of the Bureau of Land Management’s Hunter Creek Bog and North Fork Hunter Creek ACECs. Eventually, Veva took a botany position with the Gold Beach Ranger District, where she helped the Forest Service to prepare a field guide to sensitive plants and their habitats. She retired from that job in 1995, but continued to botanize, aiding academic botanists in locating and learning about our region’s unusual plants.
Veva featured in the Coos Bay World newspaper in 1995
Through her love of plants, self-taught expertise, and knowledge of the rugged local landscape, Veva became widely recognized as the foremost expert and go-to person on Siskiyou botany.

In 1992, Veva received a national volunteer award for her years of service, presented by the Forest Service Chief in Washington, D.C.

In 1994, she received a state and national conservation award from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Veva was a Fellow of the Native Plant Society of Oregon and also served on that organization’s board.

She was a founding member of the Curry County-based Kalmiopsis Audubon Society, where she instilled in her fellow members an appreciation for the unique native plants of our region.

As recently as 2009, despite her advancing age, Veva was still helping to guide OSU botanists to populations of rare and sensitive plants in our area region.

In 2011, Veva received a tremendous honor when a small and lovely daisy, endemic only to the Signal Butte and Red Flat areas, was named Erigeron stanselliae, Veva’s erigeron, in recognition of her many contributions.

This small daisy that she had first collected and sent to the OSU herbarium back in 1982 had sit in an “undetermined” folder for over fifteen years until Erigeron experts took a closer look and determined that the plant represented a distinct species, tightly linked to serpentine soils. Since Veva loved the plants of serpentine soils best, this was a fitting tribute.

Veva always held firm to the belief that we need to preserve the natural environment for all future generations.

Designation of the Veva Stansell Botanical Area, with its unique population of Veva’s erigeron, will further honor Veva's contributions and continue her legacy by protecting and foster awareness and stewardship of our region's extraordinarily unique botanical resources.

Please join us in supporting designation of the Veva Stansell Botanical Area: click here to add your name to our petition.