More than 35 years with Washington State Parks allowed him to pursue an insatiable curiosity about the world of botany. Now he's added the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum (CGICM) to his schedule of presentations around the state.
"We are delighted to welcome Gary Lentz as our Sundays on the Gorge speaker," said CGICM Executive Director Sharon Tiffany. "He's a wonderful speaker and his knowledge of our state's history and plant life is remarkable. I can guarantee an interesting and entertaining program."
Lentz will be at the museum at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21.
Lentz was the park ranger at Lewis & Clark Trail State Park near Waitsburg for many of his 35 years with the parks department. Born in Pennsylvania, he spent much of his youth hiking the Appalachian Trail.
He said he has found many parallels between his life experiences and those of David Douglas, such as the love of plants; the desire to see what was growing over the next hill, and finding out how to collect and preserve seeds, flowers, and other plant products.
"As manager at the park, I endeavored to learn about all the many plants that grow in a riparian habitat," he said. "Having recovered from eight floods over the period I was at the park, I saw plant succession, introduction of new species and how native plants adapted, or didn't, after each event. Those experiences provided me with excellent opportunities to observe and share observations with visitors."
Lentz has combined his love of plants with his fascination with history. He spent more than 30 years involved with historical re-enactment, where he learned 19th century survival skills. During the recent bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Lentz traveled the Northwest appearing as Sgt. Patrick Gass, presenting the historical perspective on life on the frontier.
He also has studied the life of David Douglas, particularly during his wanderings around the region from 1824 to 1827. Lentz has sought and found many of the same plants, flowers and trees in the same locations as Douglas. And Lentz did that research in period clothing using period camping gear and techniques.
During his presentation at CGICM, he will display period plant presses, seed collecting techniques and plant samples while sharing the experience of David Douglas.
Lentz's PowerPoint presentation is titled, "Trifles Will Not Stop Me." It centers on Douglas' travels and has been dubbed "...a delightful exploration of the past."
Lentz was a co-winner of the Washington State Historical Society's David Douglas Award.
The Sundays on the Gorge presentation will be in the DeGroote Theatre at 2 p.m. Saturday Aug. 21. Attendance is free with paid admission to the museum
For further information, call 427-8211.