The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Mike Newton Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

March 15, 2016


“A Life Dedicated to Healthier Forests”  March 15, 2016  Location: Newton residence, Philomath, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Newton discusses his family background and upbringing in New England, the forested environment in which he grew up and was educated, and his initial undergraduate studies in Animal and Dairy Husbandry at the University of Vermont. He then recalls his two years of service in the United States Army, as well as the circumstances by which he met his wife and started a family.

From there, Newton recalls his move to Corvallis to study in the Oregon State College School of Forestry. In reflecting on this time, he notes his earliest interest in weed control, his contacts with T.J. Starker, and his impressions of the student experience for students in Forestry at the time as compared to today.

A major topic of the interview is Newton's program of research on the use of herbicides in forested settings. Of particular interest are his recollections of the stint that he spent in Vietnam and the Philippines, during which time he evaluated the impact of herbicides including Agent Orange on the landscape of these two countries. Newton likewise shares his thoughts on the potential for harm that Agent Orange posed to humans that were exposed to the herbicide during the Vietnam War, and also comments on broader issues of competition between species within varying forest settings.

Next, Newton responds to a series of questions concerning several controversial issues surrounding the world's forests, including concerns raised over the environmental impact of chemicals deployed for weed control in forestlands. He likewise shares his opinion on salvage logging, comments on his work to develop improved tree seedlings, reflects on his interactions with graduate students over the years, and details a project that he has led to demonstrate the cultivation of mature forests through programmed thinning and harvesting.

The interview concludes with notes on family, activities in retirement, and words of advice to students of today.