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Mike Kerrick Oral History Interview, August 28, 1996

Oregon State University

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Max Geier: What I wanted to do here is back up a little bit and talk about your early involvement with the Andrews, and some of the special pathways and ways that you came to that work. You mentioned you started there as a student in 1952?

Mike Kerrick: Yes, I was on the McKenzie [Ranger] District from Minnesota [student at Univ. of Minn.], and I was in some special category. I can't dredge the name up right now. The idea was to get student foresters from across the country, instead of all from the west. I got a job with the Forest Service through one of those special programs, and came out, the first time in '52, working with the Forest Service there at McKenzie Bridge. That was before the McKenzie and Blue River districts were formed. It was all the McKenzie District. That first summer I spent mapping various parts of the forest. In those days you always ran out of money, and before the end of the fiscal year, which probably you still do to this day. One of my tasks was to work with one of the handymen there at McKenzie Bridge, and prepare the site for the dedication of the Andrews [In 1953, for name change from Blue River Experimental Forest to H.J. Andrews E.F. in honor Horace J. Andrews, Region 6 Chief Forester, and prospective future U.S. Forest Service Chief, who died in a 1951 car accident].

Geier: Oh?

Kerrick: At the entrance to the Andrews, somebody had moved in a big rock, and they had a brass plaque. I helped set the cornerstones, the other rockwork, that kind of stuff, and the landscaping for that event. That was my entrance, (laughs) my introduction to the Andrews. This was in early June of 1952. I can't remember that I worked there then. The next year I came out, in 1953, and actually did some layouts of some of those goofy sales that Ed [Anderson] talked about [in earlier interview]. We did some layouts for the small, circular units. And then, I graduated in 1954 and began work with the Forest Service at Lowell on the Willamette River, and in May of 1956, I came over as the first district assistant to work with Ed. Ed was the Ranger at Blue River. And, as I mentioned earlier, my neighbor was Jack Rothacher. We were good friends. Jack and Jean [Jack's wife] were wonderful people, and Jack was a dedicated researcher. In those days, I don't think he had a graduate degree. Well, he may have had a master's degree. He was involved in laying out and setting up the small watersheds program, the calibration of those watersheds, and in developing the logic for treatments of those watersheds. Then, I left in 1959, and came back as district ranger in 1967 at Blue River.

Geier: So, your degree was from University of Minnesota?

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: Let's see, what was your area of interest?

Kerrick: Forest management.

Geier: Forest management. What was your perception of the experimental forest [H.J. Andrews] when you came out in 1952? There wasn't very much there at that time, was there?

Kerrick: No, the main road up Lookout Creek was there in 1952. I really can't remember how much further, or how extensive the road network was. But it wasn't very extensive, anyway.

Geier: You were at the initiation ceremonies, or whatever? [Renaming the experimental forest from Blue River E.F. to honor H. J. Andrews, as referenced earlier.]

Kerrick: No, I didn't. I was a lowly worker in those days. So, I didn't get to the dedication ceremony.

Geier: And then, when you came back in '56, it sounds like Jack Rothacher was your closest colleague who you worked with?

Kerrick: Well, no. He just happened to be my next-door neighbor. My job in those days was fire control for the whole district; and trail maintenance, road maintenance, recreation, regeneration, and reforestation. I had all those duties, and many of those same things happened on the Andrews, road maintenance and that type of thing. We did a little trail construction job there for the research folks to provide the access for the control watershed [Watershed 2]. Because I was a professional in that job, I took an interest in the Andrews. I've always had an interest in the knowledge, the information-gathering side of research. I had a strong feeling you had to be involved in research kinds of activities to help guide our management. So, I've been a strong supporter of research throughout my career. I have been frustrated at times that we weren't getting answers we needed, but supported the notion we ought to be going after those questions.

From the very beginning, I had an interest in the Andrews, and was excited about what was going on there. We were friends with some researchers there, too, some young folks out from South Dakota. He [one he met] was part of the Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at Corvallis, and he was living at Lucky Boy [camp], doing research, I think, on deer. This was in '56, '57. McDonald, I think was his name. He was a young fella at the time. A grad student. Anyways, I left in '59, and came back in '66. As I mentioned earlier in the interview with Ed, my notion of what was going on in the '50s was being driven by the question how should we manage these forests that were represented in the Andrews - old-growth Douglas-fir, by-and-large -- how best to road the landscape, what effects would harvest of these forests have on soil compaction, those sorts of things. A whole host of research designed to answer those types of questions were going on at the time. Or, the studies were being set up, like the watershed program, with calibration of watersheds going on in the '50s. The treatments of the watersheds started in the '60s, and were completed by the time I got back as ranger.

Geier: Over your career, it sounds like they were bringing you here and taking you away.

Kerrick: (Laughing) Yeah.

Geier: I guess at the time, you were just getting started in your career.

Kerrick: Yeah. Right.

Geier: And so, you probably didn't have a whole lot of choice where you were going.

Kerrick: Right.

Geier: But were you attracted there at that time, by the Andrews itself?

Kerrick: No, it just happened to be there.

Geier: So from the Andrews, you went to Baker [Mt. Baker National Forest]?

Kerrick: Yeah, from the Blue River District, I went to the Monte Cristo District of the Mount Baker National Forest in northern Washington. This was back when the Mount Baker was still a national forest by itself. Now it's combined with the Snoqualmie. But then, it was a national forest, with its own supervisor in Bellingham [Washington]. I spent seven years up there, and then came back to Oakridge in charge of timber management on that ranger district [Lowell R.D., Willamette N.F.]. Then, a year-and-a-half later or so, I came over here in January of '67 as the district ranger.

Geier: I know in the '50s and early '60s, it was pretty common in the Forest Service for senior managers to identify people to "bring along" in the Forest Service.

Kerrick: Uh-huh.

Geier: Were you aware of anybody that was a particular mentor or close contact who supported your career?

Kerrick: Not really. I had mentors like Dave Gibney and Chris Weil, but I didn't have somebody that at the time I understood was my mentor. (Laughs)

Geier: Were there any people there shaping your ideas about how to manage a forest in that period?

Kerrick: Yeah. I think researchers have had a role in that, like Jack Rothacher, some of his ideas and concerns. When I came back as ranger, I interacted quite a bit with the research community. Bob Harris was, I think, deputy station [PNW] director at the time, and the Andrews was part of his geographic area. A guy by the name of Dick Fredriksen did work out here, Ted Dyrness, and of course, Jerry Franklin. Phil Briegleb was out here quite a bit. And of course, in the '60s we were wound up, hell-bent, in the French Pete issue. We had a lot of research folks involved in that, as well as folks from national forest management, trying to come up with the best science to manage that area, and develop the plan for management. So, there was a lot of interaction.

Geier: This French Pete issue. You mentioned that earlier, but we didn't talk about it, I don't think.

Kerrick: No, though it grew out of a larger concern. The French Pete issue began in the early '50s during discussions about the Three Sisters Wilderness and how that would be shaped, what the final boundaries would be. That's where folks never let that decision lie. So it came back. There was pressure from the moment the ink was dry, in '57, on the secretary's [Sec. of Ag.] decision. The final solution, was when it was brought into the wilderness system by legislation introduced by Hatfield [Mark-Senator, R-OR], either Hatfield or Packwood [Bob-Senator, OR]. I wasn't here at the time, but folks who felt very strongly about that just wouldn't let it go. (Laughs) They kept hanging in there and hanging in there and hanging in there. When I arrived in '67, the practice during those days was to "pre-ad" a sale that might be offered in the dead of winter. It would provide purchasers and others an opportunity to get into the ground before the snows. So, there was a big uproar when that sale was pre-added in the fall of '66. I remember one of my first jobs as ranger was to personally go in on snowshoes and take a look at that.

Geier: Huh.

Kerrick: That sale. And I had some concerns. I told Dave [Gibney --Blue River District Ranger] that the layout, had been done some years earlier, and it just didn't have the kind of stream-side protection and so on, that we were doing even then. You know, it didn't meet current-day standards. So, I suggested to Dave that we not go forward with the sale. It might prove to be embarrassing, if we did go forward with it, because it didn't meet today's standards. Or 1967 standards. And so, we pulled the sale, and then we put a lot of energy into redesigning the sale, relocating the road. The road came up the bottom of the creek, and that just wasn't the best location for it. We came in at the top on much better ground, and then, in the process, we developed this overall management plan for the drainage, and relied a lot on the published research and what-not, to analyze the effects and so on.

Geier: How had things changed between 1959 and '67 in terms of the Andrews, and the facilities, and the people there?

Kerrick: By the time I came back, there was a lab set up in the ranger station office, there was a technician, Ros Mersereau, that took care of the day-to-day things. The professionals [higher station/research-centered Forest Service personnel], by then, had retreated back to Corvallis. I shouldn't say retreated, but I think they found it was pretty lonely for a researcher out here in terms of their own personal growth. There still wasn't a headquarters site out at the forest. That came later, initially, I guess in the '70s, but it came into full-flower in the '80s and in the '90s.

Geier: Yeah. Roy Silen was talking about his trailer out there and the poker games they had out there, and that that was something that attracted people.

Kerrick: Yeah, yeah. (Laughter) By the time I came back in '67, I think there was a trailer that was assigned to the Andrews, up on a trailer pad. And they still had a house here [Blue River]. where Ros Mersereau lived. But the group that came down to do work on the Andrews in the '60s, hung out in the trailers there in the '60s. I left in 1970, and the next big change occurred in the late '60s and continued through the '70s, and that was the International Biome Program, the IBP. That I think, really signaled a big shift in emphasis on the Andrews. At least in my head, that's how I see it. The '50s and '60s were devoted to trying to get answers that we needed on the obvious effects of management on water and on soil, and how to best regenerate stands, what's the best kind of silviculture, and so on. But the IBP was focused more on how the ecosystem did function. You had these wild people and trapezes up in the trees studying moss and lichens, and all kinds of things that didn't occur to a dirt forester to be of any interest at all. But certainly, it became very, very important, that whole 10-year effort just moving things forward at a speed that couldn't have happened without it. I think that's a real significant effort. And the fact that the Andrews was selected, I think, just made a big difference in what sorts of science got done, and the understanding that we have of these forests that that came out of that.

Geier: Was there a benefit from a management standpoint to the district, to have the Andrews selected as part of that program?

Kerrick: Just from a gee-whiz kind of a view, I'm trying to think back to the initial reaction, which probably was, "God Almighty, we're putting money into this stuff?" when we really should be focusing on stuff that I, as a ranger, was burning to have answers for. But in retrospect, devoting that kind of energy and capital into basic research really has paid off. A tremendous payoff. However that happened, those folks ought to be saluted, in my judgement.

Geier: Okay, go ahead.

Kerrick: We often don't pay attention to that, that basic level of research that does have payoff, only you can't really put a finger on it to say that you're committing the capital to do it. Managers are frustrated by not having information today. (Laughing) I need this information today to answer these questions.

Geier: What kinds of problems were you facing that you needed answers to?

Kerrick: In that period in the '60s, we were having problems with regeneration, problems with unwanted vegetation, and how to best control unwanted vegetation. There were lots of nuts and bolts kinds of things we really hadn't gotten on top of yet. By the end of the '70s, the nursery practices changed, so I think we really got control of regeneration. All of that came out of research that was going on in the '60s, I would guess. But then, you're facing those sorts of problems that you want answers to right now, and there weren't good answers.

Geier: Who would you appeal to if you had a problem that you thought needed to be researched at that time? What would you do?

Kerrick: I think our avenue was through the chain of command, through the forest and so on. We probably had a leg up here by interacting at the ground level with researchers, but I didn't influence basic designs of research. It would kind of float up through the hierarchy. We'd rant and rave to the staff, and he would kind of collect that input. (Laughs) It was all kind of a mystery at that point.

Geier: So, it's kind of a mystery. When I ask the same question of the scientists, I get kind of the same answer, actually.

Kerrick: Is that right?

Geier: It's kind of a mystery to them, sometimes, how they came about some kinds of research subjects.

Kerrick: Yeah, yeah.

Geier: But you did have quite a bit of interaction, it sounds like, at least more interaction at that point, than you might have had in the 1950s?

Kerrick: Yeah, oh yeah. Right. And the staff at the Andrews was growing. There were more scientists involved. I left in 1970, and went down to work in timber staff on the Six Rivers [National Forest] in Northern California, and then came back to the Mount Hood [National Forest] as Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Mount Hood. From there, down as supervisor of the Coconino [National Forest-AZ]. We had an experimental forest there too, in fact one of the very early, early, early ones, and it was established in 1908. Oh, God! (Laughs). Dear me, I can't dredge up the name of it now [Fort Valley Experimental Forest, just west of Flagstaff, Arizona]. Anyway, it's not important. The important thing, though, is the relationship of the researchers on that unit to, say the district ranger and the other managers on the forest. It was just totally different than it was on the Andrews.

Geier: Hmm. How so?

Kerrick: Very little interaction, a distinct "we-they" kind of attitude. It was just totally different. Now, that was the formal experimental forest in the forest [Coconino N.F.]. The other thing that was going on at that point was that the Beaver Creek project. I don't know if you've ever heard of the Beaver Creek project?

Geier: I don't know about that, no.

Kerrick: It was a demonstration area, and there was a heavy research component. It was designed to answer the water issues of the day, the grazing issues, and so on, in the Southwest. What was the best way to increase water yield, and so on, in that arid state. It was heavily influenced by the Salt River Project and the grazing ranchers' community. I interacted with that group, not a whole lot, but it was still a "we-they" kind of thing, from the district standpoint. Really interesting.

Geier: What do you think accounts for the difference?

Kerrick: I don't know, it's hard for me to know. Then I came back as supervisor on the Willamette. Jim Caswell was district ranger at Blue River [R.D.] at the time. I had a better partnership than my predecessors had at the Andrews when I was ranger in the late '60s. The partnership had developed stronger at that point. I really wanted to build that partnership into a stronger partnership. In fact, in selecting a replacement for Jim [Caswell], as Jim was down to be deputy over on the Boise [National Forest], I selected Steve Eubanks. Part of the interview with all of the candidates was this notion of partnering, and the fact that we had this incredible resource there. And also, my want to build on that partnership and certainly not do anything to negatively affect it, but to nurture it and see it grow. By then, the Andrews had matured, and it was just an incredible source of information, of data, and knowledge, and we needed that knowledge to better improve the practices there on the Willamette [National Forest]. Well, my God, Steve turned out to be an incredible (laughs) person. He probably spent more energy and effort on the Andrews than I wanted, but I could see great things happening there. The partnership really flowered under his administration.

Geier: Was there anything that made him stand out from other candidates in that interview?

Kerrick: Hmm?

Geier: Was there anything in that interview that you were asking, especially about partnerships, or making that a purpose of the interview? Was there anything that really made him stand out from other people?

Kerrick: Yeah. It was his interest, also. He had a strong interest. At least he indicated that to me, that this indeed, was a strong area of his interest as well. And it didn't come out as strong with the other folks that I interviewed. Frankly, I can't recall who all I interviewed, but Steve stood out as a very strong advocate of the management/research marriage, how you could tap into that knowledge base, and make it work, as opposed to ignoring it or trying to--..(Laughs).

Geier: Can you recall what his background was at that point?

Kerrick: Well, he was district ranger at Bear Springs.

Geier: Was he involved in those kinds of partnerships earlier?

Kerrick: I don't know. I can't recall, frankly, that he had. But when he came, he really made that thing hum. The basic elements were there. My partnering had been pretty informal, but by the time Caswell was on the scene, there were monthly meetings, and there was a strong sense of this triad that manages that area [Willamette NF, PNW Station, OSU]. Ralph Anderson was instrumental on my staff in making that work and nurturing it, but Steve really developed that thing into something else. I look at the '80s as strengthening that management-research relationship, and really handing off information correctly to managers, and doing it in such a way that we were able to utilize it, and develop new standards for the forest plan. At the same point we were putting together the forest plan, we changed practices almost overnight, on things like large, woody debris. When I came on the forest, we were still into Y.U.M. yarding, "yarding unutilized material," putting it in huge piles, and disposing of it the best way we could. If the chip market was up, it went into chips, if the market wasn't up, it went up in smoke. That started in the '60s, so there was a 14-year period, maybe, where the focus was on clean, clean, clean, clean everything. Knowledge gained in the '70s on the Andrews and other places, convinced us that this was not a good practice at all. Overnight, we changed that whole damn thing, and that was not an easy thing to do. You had technicians on the forest, that this is what they got stroked on, how clean that forest looked, and how good a job they did. The same way with purchasers and loggers. They grumbled about bringing in all that stuff [to the landing], but they had a pride that it just looked better to them. To change that whole thing around--.(Laughs)

Geier: Yeah.

Kerrick: I think it was probably also a money thing. In our appraisals, we tried to make an estimate of how much it [logging operations, from cutting to removal/cleanup] cost, and loggers found ways to be more efficient at that, so, it was a money-making deal for them, too [To not do YUM-yarding]. That was not an easy thing to turn around. But, we did it overnight. That, and leaving snags and a bunch of green trees per acre; all had their beginnings on the Andrews. We took the ideas and put them into practice, in a very short period of time on the Willamette, and then, in the region as well. I think we were viewed as, or at least I viewed ourselves as, the leaders in that whole effort.

Geier: At the staffing level, was there a shift in the recruitment policies in the forest?

Kerrick: Yeah, during that period we put a person who eventually evolved into what John Cissel [research and science liaison focused on "technology transfer"] was at Blue River [R.D.]. We funded him out of the National Forest system fund. The idea was that person would be the transfer agent, the person that would really help move information, or the flow of information from research to management, and vice versa. The first person we had in that job really didn't cut the mustard, in my judgement. It wasn't his fault, he just was more an introspective person. He wasn't a communicator.

Geier: Was this before Cissel was hired?

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: Who was that?

Kerrick: Oh, God. I can see him. I don't want to say his name, anyway. [Vince Puleo]

Geier: Okay, that's fine.

Kerrick: But anyway, he was a good person, but he just wasn't a communicator, the job wasn't getting done, and the ranger agreed with me. I can't remember whether it was under Steve when we made that change, or under Lynn [Burditt]. But, I did the same focused-kind of interview with people who I interviewed following Steve's departure, and I felt that Lynn would carry on that tradition.

Geier: This is Lynn Burditt?

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: Okay.

Kerrick: Lynn isn't as gung-ho as Steve, or at least I thought so, but she brought a different perspective and I think was equally effective on the whole area of bringing data and ideas on. In fact, more effective, just because the situation changes, the adaptive management areas, and all that sort of thing, just brought more attention and more focus onto the flow of information between researchers and management.

Geier: One of the scientists said it was almost scary the way Steve Eubanks would latch onto something, and he would do it before they were really sure about what they should be doing.

Kerrick: Yeah, I know. That was a curse of Steve, but it was also, the researchers felt pretty damn good about that. I felt a little nervous also, but I was encouraged by what Steve was doing. I wasn't going to discourage it.

Geier: From a forest management standpoint, did you get a sense of a shift in research, in the kinds of people that were there, and their attitudes about cooperation with management, in that period?

Kerrick: Yeah, I think so. It took a long time to nurture that relationship. It didn't happen overnight, but it did happen, whereas other places, it hasn't happened. Probably hasn't happened yet. So, it takes energy to make that happen. It takes somebody to support and nurture that, and encourage it to make it happen, on both sides. And when it happens, my God, it's incredible. (Chuckles) Because it's worth doing. So, I kind of characterize the '80s as the Andrews kind of coming into full flower, with the site being fully developed, or a hell of a lot more fully developed than it had been before the office construction. We supplied some surplus trailers out there, to kind of get them going, and by the end of the '80s, they were well underway with the site, as far as we could figure.

Geier: Do you think there were any external factors? It didn't just shift from the old system to the new?

Kerrick: Oh, sure. The whole emphasis was on ecosystem management, the old-growth battles, all that stuff, I think, certainly,

Geier: So environmental disputes, the policy shifts, and I'm not sure what else?

Kerrick: Sure. Right. All that had a play, including legislators, like Hatfield, and others who were able to get funds for site development and that sort of thing.

Geier: Okay.

Kerrick: I left before Clinton came into office, but that certainly has had an effect, as well.

Geier: So you left in '90?

Kerrick: Yeah, in January of '91. I've been involved to some degree, but certainly not to any great degree. But, as an outsider, looking at that whole thing, certainly the Northwest Forest Plan and the focus on scientists and so on, has had more effect to continue this interchange of information.

Geier: Do you think from the '70s on into the '90s, there was a change in how the local community perceived the Andrews?

Kerrick: You know, I don't know. Do you mean, by the mill folks?

Geier: No, there's a couple of community things I'm looking at. One I'm especially interested in, is the immediate vicinity around Blue River, how the people view research scientists in the Forest Service, and how that changed.

Kerrick: I'm probably not the one to ask that question. Somebody like Lynn [Burditt] will have a better feel for that, I think.

Geier: You mentioned Hatfield several times. What about political support or enthusiasm for those kinds of activities?

Kerrick: Yeah, I've had a lot of folks when I was supervisor for 10 years, and we had lots of field trips to the Andrews with folks like DeFazio and staffers from various politicians [Congressional staffers], and I know the scientists there had them on-site. I think there's been a shift in thinking there, although they fall back every so often (laughs), the infamous "salvage rider." [Legislation endorsing salvage logging of burned forest]. I support the notion that we need to really be timely about going in and salvaging or doing something to support the health of these forests to make them more fireproof. I think the Warner Creek example just screams at that, that here you are four years later. I drove by there the other day and they've got this sea of snags, and eventually they will fall down, and it will repeat itself. That's been brought to its knees by the salvage rider. Unfortunately, with the concern for the public, one element of the rider, which I think was just awful, was bringing in these section 318 sales. [Section of an appropriations bill permitting some logging] The [laughs] industry shoots themselves in the foot most times, in their exuberance to say, "By God, now we're in power, we'll blah, blah, blah," and do something dumb like that. It ignites the environmental folks to the point where nothing happens. That rider was designed for salvage, and to bring this stuff rapidly into the market, because once it gets old, its value goes down, so it's very difficult. If somebody wants to stop a timber sale, there's so many levers in our system to do it. These competing and conflicting acts that affect the national forests, including the National Forest Management Act [1976] itself. There are enough levers there that will keep attorneys busy forever, and can bring anything to a halt. I mean, by God, anything. If somebody doesn't want something to happen, there are levers there to pull that some judge will make a judgement again that, he probably didn't have enough information here. (Laughs) So, the salvage rider had at least brought to some conclusion that the environmental efforts of the Forest Service brought to bear on this particular project, is sufficient to meet the act. And that's not a good way to run a railroad, I guess. But, because of all the hoopla, it almost becomes necessary. The environmental folks say it is logging without laws. Well, baloney! I know better. In fact, the Warner Creek, that whole thing, went through environmental statements, it was reviewed for, gosh sakes, by everyone, on and on and on. And it preceded the salvage rider. So then, the salvage rider comes along, and these folks go out and protest (laughs). That's frustrating.

Geier: For Jerry Franklin and the research group up at the Andrews, there has been a magnet for a lot of public controversy and discussion. Alston Chase's book, In a Dark Wood, for example, if you're familiar with that, was an attack on the whole concept of ecosystem management.

Kerrick: No, I haven't read that.

Geier: I was just curious, because that book and its analysis of what they were doing there, this attack on their work there, seems at odds with this partnership you've been talking about.

Kerrick: I'd have to read the book, I guess, to react. But here again, you have that continuum of a philosophy of ecosystem management on the one end, you have folks who feel strongly that mother nature ought to be the sole manager of these forests. That humans have no part in it. On the other end of the spectrum, you have folks who feel that humans have a strong role, always have and always will, in how these forests ought to be managed, and their view of ecosystem management is much different than these folks over here. I'm more on the side of the view that the forest, this ecosystem we live in, humans are a very strong part of it. I would guess you have scientists on that same end of the spectrum, scientists who feel very strongly that they shouldn't be doing anything. And on the other side, scientists that feel that, with the knowledge that we have, that we can do a better job. I would guess there were probably some scientists up there on the staff that hold those views, and as they articulate those views, people pick up on whatever they want to hear, I guess.

Geier: Well, there's some interesting questions that we have here about this shifting public attitude towards research. Bob Buckman, who was involved with the PNW Station --

Kerrick: Yeah, I know Bob.

Geier: He mentioned before in a previous interview, his idea of personalities of people, of getting the right people together and working together, can lead toward that kind of a paradigm shift.

Kerrick: Sure.

Geier: And at another level, you can see the natural forces at work, public sentiment, building up a knowledge base. How would you characterize the relative weight of those forces as far as what was going on at the Andrews?

Kerrick: During my stay, you mean?

Geier: Yeah.

Kerrick: I don't know what's going on there at the moment, but I thought they were bringing a group together, including National Forest management people, to listen to one another and interact, and transfer information and knowledge to make things work better. That was my notion.

Geier: What do you think brought that group there? What were some of the forces at work there?

Kerrick: Well, as I mentioned earlier, we were developing these standards and guidelines that were going to drive the forest for the next 10 to 15 years, and there was a sense of urgency. [Complete the Willamette National Forest plan of 1990] I wanted the best science we could get to help formulate those. And I wasn't alone. I think the regional forester wanted that. The chief wanted it, and here we had an opportunity, because of the Andrews being right here on the Willamette, and representing our forest situation pretty well, to have the ability to take that leap forward. So, there was probably some stimulus there, too. Rolf [Anderson], not only was the liaison with the Andrews, he was also my principle staff in-charge of the forest plan, and so, there certainly was a desire on his part. I don't know what was guiding the scientists. I could sense that, you know, God Almighty, they were putting on more tours and more tours and more tours. My sense was that, at least to some of them, this was a royal pain in the rear. It was taking them away from what they probably felt was their strongest suit, and that was to do more basic research, do more studies, or whatever.

Geier: Yeah.

Kerrick: In fact, I've heard them articulate that in kind of a [trophy] model, by the end of the '80s, why, by God, both Blue River and the Andrews were conducting, I don't know how many tours, but hundreds of them, and I don't know if that's stopped by this point, but probably hasn't.

Geier: Let's see, this tape is probably close to the end here.

[Tape Break]

Geier: The kinds of things that might attract people to one of the national forests could be happenstance, actually, or you could look at people who were recruited, like Steve Eubanks, for example, or it could be self-selection of people coming here. I thought maybe you could talk a little bit about what brought you back to the Willamette National Forest. Because at that point in your career, you had a lot more choice in where you were going to be heading.

Kerrick: Well, I had two choices at that point. One was to go in the direction of the chief's office [Washington D.C.], or the other one was to try to come back here, and throw my hat in the ring for managing one of the best forests in the country that I knew of. I started here, and I had strong roots here. I had counsel on both sides. In fact, I had some folks pretty damn angry with me that I went this direction rather than the chief's office. (Laughter)

Geier: Is that right?

Kerrick: Rather than that go that other direction. But I felt that's what I wanted to do, in fact, I was flattered. I saw the vacancy and I was talking to my wife at one point, and I said, "What the heck, I'll put my hat in the ring." That afternoon, the regional forester from [Region 6] called, and encouraged me to put in an application. I wasn't the only one that he encouraged.

Geier: Who was the regional forester then?

Kerrick: Dick Williams.

Geier: Okay.

Kerrick: So, I talked to my regional forester, Gene Hassel, and he said, "Yeah," he was okay with that. He said, "You know what you're doing? You're at a fork in your career, that if you go that direction, that's probably going to be where you end up. Vis-a-vis, you take this other fork, and if your goal in life is to become a regional forester or something else, that should be the direction."

Geier: Yeah.

Kerrick: But I felt the Willamette tug pretty tightly there. I've never really been sorry for the choice.

Geier: You're originally from Minnesota, right?

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: So the connection here would be that early student work, and then, your early career?

Kerrick: Yeah. Right. I fell in love with Oregon when I first came out. I was blown over by the size of the trees and the opportunities to practice forestry here in a pretty state.

Geier: Okay.

Kerrick: I never regretted leaving Minnesota, either. I've got three brothers who you couldn't pry out of there. (Laughter)

Geier: I got some of the same reaction.

Kerrick: Yeah. I go back occasionally in February, to remember why I came out here. (Laughter)

Geier: So, that wouldn't be too long.

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: When you were back at the University of Minnesota, going back to where you began, were there any people in the university shaping the way you thought about forestry or forest management?

Kerrick: Yeah, I really thought that Minnesota, at that point, and probably still does, had a high professional ethic in terms of what a professional ought to be thinking about and doing. Guys like Bob Kaufert, who was the dean of the school at that point.

Geier: How do you spell his name?

Kerrick: Kaufert? K-A-U-F-E-R-T. Wonderful guy. He was dean of the college [forestry]. I think the philosophy of Minnesota then was focused on preparing you for learning more. The learning process didn't stop the day you got your degree. It was the beginning, and they tried to prepare you for that. So, I always felt good about my education there at Minnesota. Some schools of forestry tend to be more trade schools. They teach you the nuts and bolts of throwing a chain and measuring trees, that sort of thing, but I always thought Minnesota went beyond that, to give you the basics for understanding how forests develop and grow, and how to live with it, how to continue to learn.

Geier: Did that have any influence, later on, in the kind of people you recruited, whether they'd been to Minnesota?

Kerrick: No, I always felt good, though, if I had a Minnesotan around. (Laughs) It's interesting, Dave Gibney was a Minnesotan, and I don't know if he was "enlightened," the school being one piece of the picture. Daryl Knopfs was also a Minnesotan, the current supervisor for the Willamette. Those guys, one preceded me and the other guy followed me, had a whole different set of professors.

Geier: When I was up in Alaska working on this history of research up there, I was running across these strains of certain schools that had more influence in who was recruited. There were a lot of folks from the University of Michigan and Colorado in the '70s. I was just curious if there were any particular schools that were like that over the years,

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: What were some of the ideas that fit into what was going on here, this cooperative thing you had going here?

Kerrick: Well, the only person I ever really had a chance to select was the ranger.

Geier: Really?

Kerrick: Yeah, he selected his team, or her, but I think selecting the boss is pretty important.

Geier: Yeah.

Kerrick: That sets the stage.

Geier: How did the level of staffing change over the time you were working out here on this district?

Kerrick: On the ranger district?

Geier: Yeah. What portion of the staff might be involved?

Kerrick: When I was district ranger, it was pretty much like Ed [Anderson] had indicated, whoever happened to be here, got the jobs. There wasn't anyone assigned, that pops into my mind, assigned specifically to the Andrews. That all came in the '80s.

Geier: Was that change to having someone dedicated to the Andrews, at the initiative of the researchers there, or was that something that came from a management standpoint, something that became necessary?

Kerrick: I don't know. I know I was involved. Rolf [Anderson], I'm sure, had some ideas about that. And the district ranger, I'm sure had ideas. I don't know where the scientific community was coming from. My guess is they probably supported it as well.

Geier: Okay. You said some Oregon State University people did some forestry down there?

Kerrick: Hmm?

Geier: I've been working with the Oregon State University College of Forestry, and there's one thing I was noticing, going through the old records in the files there, was the cooperative agreement worked out in the 1970s that laid out how the Forest Service and university would administer the Andrews. [Series of MOUs from 1961 to the present that evolved along with HJA; IBP, LTER, etc.]

Kerrick: Okay.

Geier: What kind of involvement did the district and the forest [Andrews] have?

Kerrick: I vaguely remember being involved. It would be interesting to look at that. I do remember being involved with the district ranger, and I'm almost certain that if that was revised now, the ranger would be certainly involved. I don't think we revised it while I was supervisor, during the '80s.

Geier: There was a revision, I can't remember the date on it, now. I was just looking at the kind of things that were there. I can't remember the details.

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: Along the lines we were talking about earlier, with your time at Minnesota, what's your impression of the Oregon State University School of Forestry, in relation to some of the things you were doing there?

Kerrick: I think they've come a long ways.

Geier: So, they've changed since the beginning of your involvement with them?

Kerrick: Yeah. I think they have.

Geier: Do you have any sense why that shift took place?

Kerrick: Well, I don't know. I think the body of knowledge has just expanded, forestry there has become more aware, and they just got to be better informed, somehow.

Geier: It sounds like a big part of the issue, is that there's a perception that research as of the 1950s wasn't addressing all the right questions that needed to be addressed. Am I mischaracterizing it?

Kerrick: Yeah, but the sort of questions change. Back in the '50s, I wanted more focus on the nuts and bolts of forestry, rather than broader policy. As we learned more about the forest, as they did in the '70s with the IBP program, that whole set of questions shifted in my judgement. More to the health of the ecosystem than the nuts and bolts, and by that time, we'd pretty well learned how to successfully regenerate, reforest, and so on. You mentioned they weren't addressing the right issues in the '50s, but I think they were getting geared up to do that. The infrastructure, the calibration of watersheds, working on the basic nutrient-cycling and those sorts of questions. That all helped advance the body of knowledge to the point where they could start looking at bigger questions.

Geier: You were mentioning earlier that when they were planning, the Forest Service began to have an impact on that thinking.

Kerrick: Oh, yeah.

Geier: Who did research on that early research? Ted Dyrness was talking about how he'd put in long-term plots, and there was a perception of resistance from some forest managers to the idea of long-term studies. Somewhere along the way in the 1960s and the 1970s, that shifted somehow.

Kerrick: There's still a basic dilemma that we, managers and researchers, face with the commitment of a piece of land to a long-term project like that. Managers don't like to be tied up in that kind of stuff forever, for good reason. If every acre is available for some kind of activity, unless it's taken out of the land base, that creates problems. The advantage of having the Andrews, there are 15,000 acres that have been designated forever, that isn't part of the land base [for calculating logging rates], so I always strongly support any kind of a long-term study there. We were just negotiating for a long-term project that I was in support of on another part of the Blue River District. But there, you really need to have a pretty good handle on the constraints from both sides, so you don't screw up the research, and so that the manager doesn't have his or her hands tied, totally. There's got to be an agreement there. So, I can see a reluctance on the part of managers to have long-term studies imposed anywhere, just willy-nilly, wherever you've got a good plot put out. You know, a logical need for that would have to be well-stated objective for somebody to buy into.

Geier: What is your perception of the discussion of cooperative research programs with the Andrews and the district here, from the perspective of other experimental forests and regional forest offices?

Kerrick: Well, as I stated earlier, this model isn't happening everywhere, not by a long ways. In fact, it's a rarity. The only one that I clearly have any experience with was, I guess we had a very little experimental forest up on the Six Rivers [National Forest], too. I don't think it was a good relationship, or a strong relationship there, anywhere near as strong as the one here. The one that we had there was nowhere as strong as here. I came to a conclusion, based on a very limited experience, that this [effective and sustained collaborative dynamic] is a rare occurrence.

Geier: So, is it your impression that, first of all, other people recognize it as being somewhat unique, and secondly, and is that either positive or negative? I mean, is that a good thing that it's unique?

Kerrick: No, I don't think it's a good thing it's unique. It ought to be the model for how these experimental forests are operated. It seems to me that the partnership, particularly with a research university; that's icing on the cake. That triad [WNF, PNW, OSU], it seems is pretty dang strong.

Geier: It sounds like what you're saying is that the reason it doesn't work other places is not because they don't want it, it's just that for some reason, it's not quite jelling. Is that what you're saying?

Kerrick: Yeah. Maybe it hasn't tumbled out yet. I don't know. (Laughing).

Geier: I guess what I'm driving at here, is there active opposition to that idea?

Kerrick: No. Well, I don't know. Active opposition to a partnership? It's something that ought not to be, seems to me.

Geier: I mean that in a round-about way. I'm getting back to our earlier discussion about the ways that individuals and individual relationships are what made the Andrews unique.

Kerrick: I think it's the individuals. How long can you keep that going, I don't know? But the individuals have changed and it's still going. Once going, it's hard to stop. That would be my sense.

Geier: It would be awfully hard to get started other places, if that's true?

Kerrick: Yeah. Right.

Geier: One of the things we're trying to answer in this study, actually, is to get a handle on what it is about the Andrews that makes it work like that. What kinds of people come looking to work in this district? [Blue River/McKenzie] Most of the scientists told me, or suggested, that they come to the Andrews because they're attracted here, just by the place. It's just a phenomenal site. I wonder if it isn't just the kinds of people that are attracted to that kind of a site?

Kerrick: It might be. I could see the scientists like that, because that's the place where they're going to go to work. And I could see an individual like, say, a John Cissel, that's been his principle place to work on, but not entirely. John's been deeply involved in Augusta Creek [Landscape/Riparian study area], and other places on this district. But other folks in the district, I don't know.

Geier: In your case, it sounds like it was Oregon in general?

Kerrick: Yeah. A hundred years ago. (Laughs) A while back. The Andrews didn't have that reputation in those days. In 1952, certainly it wasn't the same relationship it is today. I can say that with absolute certainty. In fact, I would guess it was probably animosity. There were turf battles of that day, I thought. That was in the early, initial stages of development [experimental forest], and my guess is that there were some struggles between people who thought, "by God, that's mine," and somebody else said, "no, that's mine," and those senseless kinds of things.

Geier: Do you have a sense of how your personal goals in forest management changed through your involvement with people like Steve Eubanks and some of the people doing research on the Andrews? Do you think that had an impact on what your goals were?

Kerrick: Of course, it has. Especially some of the things I've already stated; management guides and standards that we developed here that were heavily influenced by what goes on at the Andrews. My view of how the world ought to operate changed, too. I was a supporter at one point in my career of YUM yarding. As being a logical fact that there was an economic basis for it, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You have the area looking better, etcetera. We just didn't have that key piece of information that this was kind of a lousy way [ecologically] to do that [YUM yarding].

Geier: I'd like to reverse that question --

Kerrick: -- But you know, throughout my career, I was trying to use the best science that I could.

Geier: Yeah.

Kerrick: The best science that was available. Either published or however we gained that information, and I think most folks were trying to do the same thing.

Geier: Yeah.

Kerrick: I don't want to be critical of the people involved, that they were stupid. Hell, they weren't stupid. They just didn't have all the information needed to do that, and that's the way the world is.

Geier: To reverse the question, I've talked to a lot of scientists who are also in the same kind of a quandary, with some who are very adamant about the need to cooperate closely with management. Art McKee told me many times that he doesn't want this to become a scientists vs. management kind of a study. But at some point, certain kinds of scientists are attracted to or interested in working with managers. Do you think that your involvement influenced the kind of scientific inquiry that was done on the Andrews? Actually, what I'm getting at is the idea of a two-way flow of information.

Kerrick: Yeah, sure. To me, that's essential. But for that to happen, you've gotta have people with open minds on both sides of the spectrum. Open to new ideas and new ways of attacking problems.

Geier: Can you give me any examples of that process at work? One that you already mentioned is hiring Steve Eubanks, who you said had a pretty strong impact on research. I was just wondering if there were any other examples.

Kerrick: I guess that [Eubanks] was the best example I could give of how you might have influenced this in the selection of people. Focused on looking for people who were willing to try new things and to be open with scientists. Yeah, I can't think of anything else.

Geier: One thing that really struck me is that most scientists I've talked with so far, have really stressed the concept that this is not really just the Andrews anymore, but that it's become kind of an extended community, where they can really focus on what they do, and mostly outside the Andrews.

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: It reminds me a little bit of something I ran into up in Alaska. Many people said that research on the forest was always a tense situation with the region up there.

Kerrick: I don't know how to respond to that. But I think you're right. We had a joint meeting once with the Umpqua, and we spent the entire day on the Andrews. We had a regional leadership meeting on the Willamette, we hosted it, and we spent the entire day on the Andrews. In both cases, you could almost hear, "aha!" I think that time, we opened up some avenues of communication, too.

Geier: When was that?

Kerrick: Oh dear, I can't remember. (Laughs) That was about 10 years ago. In the mid-'80s.

Geier: You were talking earlier about how you characterized work at the Andrews by decades. How would you run that through, say, the 1950s? 1960s?

Kerrick: The '50s, I think, were the nuts and bolts of how you brought these forests, these ancient forests, under some kind of management. What was the most efficient management, roads, and harvest methods, then measuring the effects of those on soil and water. Seems that was the focus of the '50s. Strip clear-cuts and the little clear-cuts, and they studied the effects of wind-throw, that sort of thing. It seems to me, that was the interest. The interest also was big game and fisheries, deer, elk, and if there was any interest in other animals, it was more from a damage perspective, the effects of deer mice on regeneration, and so on. It was more nuts and bolts from a science base for how are we going to manage this land. The '60s on the Andrews, I would characterize as the advent of active demonstration projects, and the small watershed studies that had been calibrated by then. The initial treatment of Watersheds 1 and 3 had begun, and then, other watersheds, Watershed 10 and several others, had been set up for management, treatment or scientific manipulation. Then, the '70s were devoted to the more complete study of what was going on; the IBP days. The '80s were the assimilation of all this information, probably changing from multi-disciplinary kinds of things to more interdisciplinary, how these disciplines could interact with one another to provide more information and better information. That was also the time of the completion of the site, the construction of offices, living quarters, and having the site more accessible for teaching or for sharing this information. And the '90s, I would guess, although I haven't been a part of it, it was more of a center for ecosystem management, the whole focus is on ecosystem management. All these things are inter-related. And the teaching of that. How do you actually do that?

Geier: Well, if you were going to look at a series of issues or ideas you'd like this study to address, is there anything in this study that springs to your mind from a management standpoint?

Kerrick: I don't know the answer, but how did this whole thing get set up? I don't know the answer to that. I know Aufderheide was involved, but how and why this site?

Geier: Why the Andrews?

Kerrick: Yeah. Why that particular location? I think from an historical standpoint it would be interesting.

Geier: Roy Silen was telling me that Phil Briegleb, I think it was, was talking one day, kind of casually, and mentioned that in the 1930s, he had wandered through this site, and looked at the Andrews near Carpenter Lookout, and he said he thought then, that if he ever wanted to have an old-growth study site, this would be it. He didn't really want it then, but that's what he said, and this would be it. This was in the 1930s, and about the same time, you know [H.J.] Andrews was going through on the survey. [Congressionally-commissioned survey of forest resources in the region.]

Kerrick: I'll be darned.

Geier: And so somebody, a number of people have suggested that the attraction of the locale is what attracts people.

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: I'm not sure I entirely buy that, but at least it covers some of that.

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: Do you see any critical junctures of ideas, people, events, and different periods?

Kerrick: Yeah. I think in terms of organizing the history there ought to be some organization scheme that would be helpful to review. How the science has changed over time, and what affected that change?

Geier: Is there any major bureaucratic infrastructure steps or structure of the Forest Service, that you think might have had an effect on the emergence of the Andrews in the 1950s through the '70s, or --?

Kerrick: I'm sure an important factor has been the various laws that drive the nation; NEPA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and NFMA, all those things. Yeah, so I think the law has probably been a good thing to judge change from, because of the influence they had.

Geier: As a former supervisor, you must have had quite a bit of involvement in some of the politics between the Washington office, the region and the forest, and some of the changes there?

Kerrick: To some degree. Actually, the politics really take place, in Washington and at the regional level, as kind of the chief's representative in the region. I think there's a lot more of that happening today in this current administration [Clinton Admin.], than there was in my day. Although we hosted Congressmen and their staffs, but more from an educational standpoint than the drafting of legislation and all that kind of stuff that occurs at the chief's level. And there's certainly exceptions to that.

Geier: I think you mentioned earlier, but I can't remember you saying that you served in the Washington Office at all?

Kerrick: No.

Geier: So you didn't?

Kerrick: No, I had a couple of details there. My career is a little unique in that way.

Geier: I thought that was real interesting. Because you're probably the first person I've talked to at this level that didn't. (Laughter)

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: Even among scientists, it seems like they usually go there.

Kerrick: Well, I know if the chief has his way, he would like to have the folks on the major national forests around the country, well, every forest around the country, to go there. I've heard them say that, anyways. This was Bill Robinson,

Geier: Okay, yeah.

Kerrick: But I think most chiefs feel strongly that those guys on the ground would have a better feeling of how politics operate, if they had a tour back there. I wouldn't disagree with that. I think that's probably correct.

Geier: Do you think that worked to your benefit, or against your interests to not have had that experience? I'm thinking more in terms of the institution of this forest [Willamette NF], actually?

Kerrick: No, I think, generally, I would agree with the chief. I had one very long detail back there, but, of course, no one takes credit for that. (Laughs)

Geier: What was this?

Kerrick: I was in RARE II, and boy, I was there two months, maybe three. It was interesting, exciting, and, depending on the job, you might go back there, it was an incredible experience. I don't disagree with that at all. But it's also expensive, hot, humid, and.--

Geier: Most of the people I've talked to did say that they'd "escaped" from Washington.

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: And they always used that same word, "escaped."

Kerrick: One guy comes to mind, when I was back there. I was detailed once in the timber area, and this guy had a monthly planning calendar, and at the end of the day, every day, he'd put an 'x', like that (Laughs), you see. Oh, dear. He was not a happy camper. He was counting down until he got out of there. And there's always a fear that you'll go back there and get stuck, and never get out.

Geier: But in terms of perspective on how the system operates, have you ever felt that you had a handicap, because you hadn't been to D.C.?

Kerrick: Oh, I don't know. I didn't feel that way, no. But, I would guess that probably some have felt that way. (Laughs)

Geier: Other supervisors, I mean your peers?

Kerrick: Nobody ever told me that. I would tell folks I've been there on two or three details. Then, they'd always say, "Oh, no, no, no." (Laughter) But I'd go back from time-to-time, and visit the Congressmen and whatnot, and I think that's important too, to visit. I shouldn't say I was completely out of that loop. I wasn't. But from a strong place of influencing specific legislation, I don't think I did that.

Geier: In terms of your Congressmen, you were in California and Oregon, is that right?

Kerrick: And Washington, and a 5-year stint in Arizona.

Geier: So in the West?

Kerrick: Yeah, entirely. Eleven western states, I think.

Geier: Maybe this relates back to that earlier question, where I was looking for institutional impacts on research and cooperation. Well, I don't want to get too deterministic about that kind of stuff, but that seems like a pretty important detail.

Kerrick: You mean, bringing around?

Geier: Well, I mean, you were a forest supervisor here at kind of a critical point [1980s-1991].

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: And your relation to the Andrews is kind of unique from a bureaucratic perspective.

Kerrick: Yeah.

Geier: And there are always, obviously, some real benefits of the kinds of solutions you might think of when faced with problems.

Kerrick: Yeah, that's right.

Geier: I don't want to push that too far. Actually, I've covered most of what I wanted to accomplish here today. Like I said earlier, this is a preliminary interview, and likely, I'll be coming back to you at some point in the future with more specific issues, and some of this is more general.

Kerrick: Well, the folks that you have on the list, I think, are the ones you need to visit with. Rolf Anderson, I didn't see. Nothing pops into my mind that you would add to that list, I don't think, other than maybe Darrel Knopf, who would give you an up-to-date view of what's going on.

Geier: Who's that again?

Kerrick: Darrel Knopf, the current supervisor of the Willamette [National Forest].

Geier: Yeah, that's really important.

Kerrick: And I don't know if you have the regional perspective covered in there? From a management standpoint.

Geier: I don't think we do, actually. Is there somebody you recommend I could talk to on that?

Kerrick: Well, my mind is a blank. The current planner, though in the regional office, or whoever might be the coordinator for research, and the principal contact, I think, would be helpful to get that regional [Region 6] perspective.

Geier: Well, if anything occurs to you, you can give me a call or drop me a note. And like I said, I'll probably be getting back in touch with you next year. One thing I do want to talk with you more about, I thought we might get into that here, whether there are any memorable characters you recall from your involvement. I'd like to do is liven the history up with some more personalized stories and things like that. So, you might think about that, what we've been talking about today, and if you can think of some people, or particular events, that would be helpful. Drop me a note.

Kerrick: Yeah, Okay.

Geier: We can probably revisit that in a future conversation.