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Gordon Grant Oral History Interview, October 6, 1997

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Max Geier: How much do you know about the project so far?

Gordon Grant: I don't where things stand. I knew that you had been contracted to do it [history and oral histories], that you had been talking around, and then I saw some things recently about trying to convene some small group to come up with some thematic dialogue. Which I think is a really good idea. That will be quite interesting, and I'd enjoy participating in that.

Geier: Yeah, Tim's trying to schedule that for me.

Grant: I think that is a great idea. I think stuff will come in the round robin that you might not otherwise extract. I read the early prospectus for it, and so 00:01:00I have some sense of some of the cross-cutting themes being developed, in chronological fashion. It looks really interesting and like you are really trying to set the thing up in an intellectually challenging and sophisticated way that is faithful to the history. You know, I was impressed by the structure, but that is about it. I haven't talked to anyone who's been interviewed so I don't know how you --

Geier: What I am really trying to get is a good, clear understanding of your background and the people who seemed to work together at the Andrews. By background, I mean, your personal experience and training, your personal origins, and what attracted you to the Northwest.


Grant: Well, I was born in New York to a New York family, a strongly east coast family. My exposure to Oregon really began at the age of 13, when my father took a position at University of Oregon's Biology Department. At that time, I remember thinking that Oregon was even more exotic than California, as far as I could tell. I didn't know anything about it, came out here, in '66, and it took me about three years here before I began to realize that I was falling in love 00:03:00with it. Up until that time, I was just amazed at the difference between Oregon and elsewhere, and just what people did. I remember the first year in Oregon, we went to see the McKenzie River White Water Parade, an event held in the McKenzie the weekend before fishing season opened. And I remember sitting on the shore at Martin rapids, watching these drunks go through the rapids drunk, and the sheriff going up-and-down there fishing people out of the drink. I was just amazed events like this happened, and I remember thinking how much I wanted to be on the river. It was so different from my background, which had a lot of water risks, because I grew up, spent my summers, in Cape Cod. I had a very ocean-oriented life as a boy, but hadn't really been in a place in which there 00:04:00was so much water, rivers as well as ocean. So my background really was that I was born in the east, moved to the west at the end of my "Wonder Bread" years, but was very much of an east coast family. It's interesting that all my three other brothers and sisters and parents are all back on the east coast. I am the only one that bonded with the landscape. But that really didn't happen for me until I went off to college, in '69.

Geier: U of O?

Grant: Actually, I went to Reed [College, Portland, Ore.], for at least a couple of years. I fell in with a motley crew of adventurous souls who were interested in exploring, in all senses of the word, what there was to find in the local 00:05:00geography. And so, for me, the real connection came because my roommate, who was from Tennessee, brought a boat that he had built for navigating Tennessee waterways back out with him to Reed. It was one of these flat-bottomed, things that you go down to black water swamp in Tennessee with -- the cottonmouths hanging from the trees and the alligators -- and he was prepared to try it on the whitewater rivers of Oregon. Which, as it turns out, was a major mistake. But I was all too eager to join him in this folly. So, I went out and bought myself a raft at a time when, this is about 1970-71, people didn't do it a lot. And I fell in love with, I mean, we tried desperately to kill ourselves in several different ways. Stories that I won't tell, but I fell in love with the 00:06:00rivers in particular and the landscape in general, and so that really became the formative, I mean in terms, of giving me a focal point, a geographical focal point. I realized the Northwest was where I wanted to be. And that persisted, for me through years of, well, dropping out school, working on a fishing boat, and planting trees and landscaping. Doing stuff like that, and eventually going back and finishing a degree at the University of Oregon. That is where I got my undergraduate [degree]; the University of Oregon.

Geier: So, you were doing landscaping work in between there?

Grant: Yeah, landscaping, and in general, you know, getting my hands dirty and pretty wet.

Geier: What was your major at Reed?


Grant: At Reed it was biochemistry, and I was all set to be a biochemist just like my father. But somewhere along the line, I didn't like living around the smell of benzene all the time, was what it really came out to. It was discovering all of this wonderfulness in the great outdoors, and the contrast between that and working in the laboratory. Even that stuff is pretty interesting to me, intellectually, the aesthetics of it just didn't fit with what I felt myself moving towards. So I dropped out of that, but retained a pretty strong interest in science and scientific pursuits. But then I took this long, end run, of really getting into rivers in a very big way. Became a 00:08:00white-water rafting guide and worked for 12-plus years as a professional.

Geier: Where was that?

Grant: Mostly in Oregon, but also in California and Idaho. For a while, I worked for other companies, and then, I actually owned a river company in Eugene for about five years. And led trips to haul them in. That really was my identity. I saw myself as a river guide first, and a banjo player, and somewhere along the line, a student. When I was an undergraduate at the U of O, I was in a program, in fact the only way I could talk myself into going back to college, was a 00:09:00special program in the Honors College, that essentially, let you do whatever you wanted to do, and call it a college degree, as long as you could get three faculty members to go along with it. Not too different from graduate school in that sense. I was fortunate to be in a program where people thought my idea of going out and studying the Willamette River was good, so basically, I used the Willamette River as the focal point of my undergraduate education. Then, I took lots of things around it on the geology, the history, the ecology, and political science of the river, and I really didn't know what I was most interested in. I mean, I was interested in the river and it seemed a pretty interesting entity to try to build on from the sciences and political sciences, hang everything 00:10:00together around a common theme with understanding the history of the river and the way the river was used in the past and how that translates to the future.

Geier: Who were some of the people you were working with on that?

Grant: The guy who was the most influential faculty member, really guided me through most of that, was Stan Cook, who was in the Biology Department, but he was also an ecologist and very committed to getting an environmental studies program started. This was when environmental studies were just beginning to be talked about as a kind of integrated whole. We tried to get our environmental studies program going at U of O and get a grant to underwrite it, and that is actually where I met Fred Swanson. Fred was just finishing up his Ph.D., and I 00:11:00think Stan was a member of his committee, or at least had been an associate. And so, I remember sitting in Stan Cook's office, just having some random discussion about the state of the universe and things like environmentalists. And Fred Swanson poked his head in the door, and Stan introduced us. And that turned out to be an important meeting, although at the time it didn't register.

Geier: Register?

Grant: Didn't entirely register. Well Stan said, "You guys ought to, you know, get together at some point." And I did end up taking Fred's class which he was teaching at the University of Oregon, a class in forest geomorphology. Which in a class, I think Fred was the first person I heard use the word geomorphology in a sentence, far as I can tell. And that was my first time of hearing about the 00:12:00H.J. Andrews, because Fred at that point was beginning to do work up at the Andrews, and was using examples from the Andrews to flesh out a class, and to study the effect of human management on forests, natural processes with in forests, stream channels, and so forth. At that point, I was completely focused on rivers, not this business about talking about dirt and organic matter, or trees. Let's cut to the chase and talk about rivers. So, I enjoyed the class and I enjoyed Fred. Fred at the time, struck me as very interesting and a really committed guy to the subject matter, committed to educating people on the subject matter. But, it wasn't really what I was doing, so it was kind of a 00:13:00footnote at that time to my other classes.

Geier: Did you take trips up to the Andrews then?

Grant: I don't recall. I don't think so, as I think there was a class field trip to the Andrews I missed for some reason, is what I remember. So, no bells went off there and I didn't actually see the place. But I can remember my first trip up there, and that was, if I can jump ahead in the history. I graduated from U of O in '77. Again, with a very sort of eclectic degree. What happened, was I got a grant from the Oregon Committee for the Humanities to fund a traveling "dog-and-pony" show. We called it the Willamette River Chautauqua. It was a slide show, one of these six projector slide shows together with oral histories, 00:14:00followed by a discussion about the role of the river in the lives of the people sitting in the room.

Geier: You say we. Who was involved with that?

Grant: There was another guy I worked with who was a photographer. He took the pictures, and I did the taped interviews, and it was really fun. Again, I hadn't finished my degree, and this was work towards a thesis I was pulling together as a senior. I traveled up and down the Willamette River, interviewing old-timers, people who had been steamboat pilots or had run log drives in the river, or Indians who had fished at the falls. This was my real excursion to history at that point. I really enjoyed and had a good time with it. Finding these people and doing exactly what you're doing; sitting with a tape recorder and asking them questions about the river. I wrote it up as a thesis, then we put it 00:15:00together as a slide show, and took it up and down. Put a show on in Corvallis, Independence, Portland, and Eugene, and we would usually attract people to come and talk about the river in some form or another. We got Barry Lopez to come and read Indian stories about the river, had some guys from the political science department talk about it, and a guy from landscape architecture. We had a lot of fun with it, but it was interesting for me because it gave me a chance to really try on the humanities in a sense. I really enjoyed it, but I realized it was not going to be my life's work. I mean, there were other things pulling on me.

A lot of that really came down to time spent, as part of my career at U of O, I found myself teaching classes about rivers. It was an experimental college kind 00:16:00of thing, and I did a one semester thing on rivers, culminating in a raft trip down the Rogue River. And it was clear that "the river" was going to be my focal point, and at some point I began to think about, well, maybe there is a science of rivers. I need to know what to call it. I had heard about geomorphology, but I thought that was associated with forests because that is the way we had studied and talked about it. But I began to read about it and realized that there were people who made careers studying rivers, and that was really the motivation for me to go on to graduate school, which I did, in '79. And I decided at that point that I wanted to go somewhere other than the Northwest for graduate school. I loved the Northwest and I expected to come back to it, and 00:17:00was running rivers full-time in the summertime, so it was always going to pull me back. But I really wanted to go the East coast. I think I wanted to test that, see what my affinities for that as well were.

Geier: Had your family gone back there?

Grant: They were still in Eugene. Maybe there may have been something there, who knows? But I was interested in trying on a different way of looking at it, and the concept of going east to get educated, appealed to me. I ended up going back in '79; to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, which scared me no end. The idea of trading in the foot-loose and fancy-free, or academic-free lifestyle, for what I took to be a fairly-focused educational environment at Hopkins.


Geier: Why Hopkins?

Grant: That's interesting. I had heard through the grapevine, because most of my decisions at that time were being made in a somewhat muddled way, as they are now. But, I had heard through the grapevine that people who were doing rivers, a lot of people who were doing rivers for the U.S. Geological Survey, had been trained at John Hopkins. That's all I knew. I literally went to the college library, and I got some catalogues out. I was thumbing around and my search image was something that looked like, well, environmental studies with a river focus. And I wasn't sure whether it was going to be rivers, or ecology, or 00:19:00rivers, or politics of rivers. It was all kind of muddled together. So, the places I had looked at, were places like the Yale School of Forestry that looked like you could sort of go there and do anything you wanted. Cornell, because it had a department of natural resources, which sounded like rivers, although it turned out to be mostly lakes. Hopkins was kind of a dark horse, because I had heard about it through the grapevine. Well, I got there, and again in this muddled way that I did things at the time, I said, "Well, I am going to go look and see what these places look like." So, in the dead of winter, I went back there, and without telling anybody I was coming, I just sort of showed up.

I walked into the basement of Johns Hopkins, the department office, and was looking at the blackboard all academic buildings have, which have everybody's name and door on it, and I saw, M. Gordon Wolman, Chair. Where have I seen that 00:20:00name before, M. Gordon? Then, I realized years prior, I had been sitting in the main office of the river company I had been working for, and picked a book out of the shelf. It was called, "Fluvial Processes and Geomorphology," a book about rivers, the science of rivers, and I realized this was the guy, that the second author was M. Gordon Wolman. It all sort of came to me. I said, "Oh, I bet he knows something about rivers!" (Chuckle). Turns out to be one of the great gurus of the field. But I had, it was pure serendipity. It was utterly unplanned on my part. I just discovered all of this, while I am staring at this blackboard. On top of that, he wasn't even there. So, I didn't even get a chance to visit with 00:21:00him while I was there. But everyone I talked to, I said "Here I am, and I am Gordon Grant, and am interested in rivers." Everyone said "Well, you've got to talk to Reds [Wolman]."

So, that is how I ended up at Hopkins. I actually met Reds on the phone when he called to say, "Well, we will let you in but we don't know what you are going to do. Seems like you are clearly interested in rivers and have done a lot." But we 00:22:00"Just want to let you know that when you come out of here, we expect you to know something about something." And so, at the time, I wasn't quite sure what that "something" was, but I knew it had to do with rivers and this guy seemed, well, I really enjoyed talking with the guy on the phone. He is just very interesting, and this charming and insightful guy, and you could just tell this from 3000 miles away.

Geier: Had you read his books before that?

Grant: Well, I had read the first chapter. And the book, it turns out to be one the key books; it's like a bible. It turns out this is literally the classic in the field, and still is. It is a classic, not only because in one book it sort of encoded everything that people knew up to that time, and had learned and studied about the science of rivers. But it is a marvelously lucidly-written 00:23:00book. You read this thing, and it is the model of how a textbook ought to be written. And I remember actually sitting and reading it as a textbook. You know, it read well, and it is a very rare kind of thing. So, it's pure happenstance the way things worked out, but at the time I didn't know any of this stuff. Even today, when you're entering a new field in fluvial geomorphology, it is not uncommon for people to go here just to find out what people, what these guys, the three authors on the book; Luna Leopold, Reds Wolman, and John Miller, are doing. All three of them have just been very, very significant people in the field.

Geier: Your work, though, was on rivers of western Oregon, wasn't it?

Grant: Well what happened was, and this gets me back again, if I am going on too 00:24:00long, just let me know. What you're probably asking, how I got back here, and that too has bit of a story to it.

Geier: Or if they had any problem with you doing the research that far out.

Grant: Absolutely not. I mean Hopkins was completely delighted, as far as I could tell. You sort of swam in, swam around the place, or floundered as the case may be, until you figured out something you wanted to do. Reds would sort of help you a bit, but he kind of left it up to you to figure out what it was you were really interested in doing. For me, it's what worked, what got me back to Oregon, which I always kind of thought I was going to do, but hadn't really figured out how or why. I was running the McKenzie River with a commercial 00:25:00outfit, and I ran into a group of people that I knew at the take out who invited me to a pot luck. At the pot luck I happened to meet another friend of theirs, Gordie Reeves. And as things go at potlucks, we got to talking and I asked, "Well, what do you do?" "I study fish." "'Oh, that is interesting, where do you do that?" "Well, I am at Oregon State." "That is interesting.' We start talking about our various interests and he said, "I'll send you some papers." Well, I would like to find out what people in Oregon are doing about rivers and fish and all this stuff. He sent me a bunch of papers.

And I noticed when I looked at the papers, that at least two-thirds of them were written by Fred Swanson; Swanson and Lienkaemper, Lienkaemper and Swanson. These were all early papers of describing the forest environment out there. I was fascinated. "Gee, I remember this guy, he taught me," and this was now seven 00:26:00years later. That would have just been it except for the fact that Gordie Reeves wrote me a note, somewhat angry, saying, "Could you please send me my papers back. At the time, he is a struggling graduate student, I am a struggling graduate student, and the Xerox machines were sold a dime a copy, and none of us had a dime. So, the idea was, I will send you the papers, you make your copies, and send it back. Well, I had obviously not fulfilled my end of the bargain. So, not having a dime, I sent Gordie his papers back, but I said, maybe if I write this guy Swanson, he will send me a free copy of this thing. So, I wrote Fred a note and said, "Look, you probably don't remember me. I was the guy back in Oregon, took geomorphology from you seven years ago and asked far too many questions, and could you please send me the papers?' He wrote me back a very 00:27:00nice note, "Oh yeah, I remember you, sort of a trouble-maker in the third row. Here are your papers, and by the way, what's the Wolman group doing?" Fred, being in this field, knew very well this guy I was working with. Well, "Wolman group" was kind of a joke, because, there was no group, I mean, we were all kind of studying with this guy. This was a marvelous guy, but, it was not like you had an audience with the pope. You would go in there and have your twenty, twenty-minute audience, and he would impart wisdom and intellectual nourishment, and you'd leave. That was the Wolman group.

Geier: Did he have a lot of students?

Grant: He had a lot, a surprising number of students, and there was a certain self-selection process, because you had to be able to handle being with a guy, who you would see only on these occasional forays, and his one class, which was wonderful, basically this book, but it was really a lifetime experience if you 00:28:00want to call it. He had about six or seven students at the time. He has had an amazing history of turning lots of people out, all with sort of the same laissez-faire style. A footnote to this thing was something Fred said, "By the way, if you are ever in Oregon, stop by and say hello." I said, "If I get to Corvallis, I will do that." But the following summer I went out to Oregon and happened to be at the University of Oregon's campus, when a symposium on Mount St. Helens, which had blown up the year before, was going to be held. So, this must have been like '81. I was told about it, and walked into a darkened room. I couldn't see who was giving the talk. But it was a pretty interesting talk about 00:29:00the ecological and geomorphic responses of the mountain and mountain side vegetation to eruption. Lights come on, and it's, Fred Swanson, and I thought "I know that guy!" So we, after the talk, we got to talking. And he said, "Well, I was interested in knowing what you're doing, and why don't you come out to the field with us. We are going up to look at this other river next week." So I tagged along, and by the end of that day, we had sort of reached some kind of gentlemen's agreement that said, if I wanted to do something out in Oregon, I could do it and he would see to it that somehow, I wouldn't starve while I was doing it.

That's really how I got back out here, I mean, that was really the connection that launched me into the Andrews program. Because I remember that spring when I came back out, when I finished my course work at Hopkins, I came back out to 00:30:00start working on a dissertation, sort of a vague notion that I was going to study something about the effects of timber harvest on streams. But I didn't really know what exactly that was going to be. Early on, Fred said, "Why don't you come up, we are going to have a group of students up at the Andrews." Kind of like HJA Days, an early version of that, and so this is, this is now '80-, it must have been '82, spring of '82. So this is Jerry [Franklin], Dick Waring, and Phil Sollins, and I don't remember Ted [Dyrness] being a part of it, but he might have been, Dick Fredriksen and Dennis Harr. It was a whole group of folks, and I remember standing in a circle in a parking lot in Blue River, going around the circle and doing the name thing, and being really impressed by the diversity of people and different disciplines represented in the circle of students and 00:31:00faculty. And it seemed like a big, friendly scene, pretty open in the sense that I could just waltz in as sort of a walk-on from the east coast, and find myself there. The main thing I found myself reflecting on was, how do all these people manage to work in one place without getting in each other's way? It seemed like there was one woman who was studying mammals, small mammals and riparian zones. Then there was someone else digging pits in riparian zones. (Chuckle) It seemed like there were going to be all kinds of problems, just getting them, keeping the small mammals out of the pits.

I remember driving around up in the Andrews that day, and that slightly nauseous 00:32:00state one gets in sitting in the back of a crowded van on logging roads, you know, lots of un-washed bodies, and I remember again having that feeling I had in Fred's class, which was, "Well, I always do rivers and it doesn't seem like anyone else is doing rivers." Then, I started running into guys like Stan Gregory and Jim Sedell. I think Jim, he had been on that first field trip I had taken, and he was doing fish things, but clearly was invested some of the uses of habitat and what was defined as "habitat" by people, that became the word I used to describe how what I did fit into what everyone else did. Because I was really focused on the physical structure and dynamics of mountain streams, what I was beginning to get quite interested in. That fit with my river guide 00:33:00background, and I'd spent a lot of time looking at rapids, and thinking about how they formed and why they formed, but the linkage for me seemed to be to talk about habitat because most of the people in this group were not geomorphologists but were ecologists. So there was a certain kind of learning process that goes on in terms of learning how to couch something you are interested in a way that is accessible and interesting to a larger group of people. I think that is an important theme, I mean, I feel that to this day. The constant challenge, particularly coming at it from the physical science end, where it is not strongly represented in the Andrews group. Fred, and Ted [Dyrness], I mean, there is a long history, in fact, as soon as I got into learning some of the 00:34:00real history of the Andrews program, I realized a lot of it was built around understanding basic physical processes of watersheds, small watershed studies. How this water sediment would move through these channel systems. But it was not immediately obvious when we first started talking and traveling around and watching Dick Waring shooting twigs out of a tree with a shotgun, which I was very impressed by. Even now, some of the woody debris stuff struck me as more ecology than physics.

And so, for me, it was really a learning process to start letting this broader conception of an ecosystem intrude upon what has been, what has been at least in a sense, very strongly of physics, you know, physics of rock and water and 00:35:00sediment. And the geomorphic training is heavily orientated towards that, because that tends to be those processes that are well represented by engineering type equations and things. So, a lot of the physics of rivers forms the bases for geomorphic education, and ecology is always recognized as an influence. But it is never really explored in that sense, at least it hadn't been at that time, with a couple notable exceptions. There was a paper back in 1960 by Hack and Goodlett, contemporaries of the guys that I had to report on. Again, another serendipitous type thing. Turns out to have been in that one paper which was about forestry geomorphology in the Appalachians, they foreshadowed, I think, 50 years of geomorphic and ecological work, much of which 00:36:00is now represented at the Andrews. I remember being very intrigued by the paper, because it seemed to be a very integrated view of how the natural world worked. I mean, you weren't limited to just talking about when does one rock turn over another. You are really trying to see how the vegetation interacts at the level of the land form with processes operating within this watershed. And they really did a very nice job of that, and so I'm hearing echoes of their work in this larger group discussion, and in my own attempts to try and merge my own discipline-thinking with this large group.

Geier: Up until that point, you hadn't really heard of much about the group besides Fred [Swanson]'s work, and, sounds like maybe Jim Sedell.

Grant: Yeah, mostly Fred, Jim, and this guy named George, and I couldn't pronounce his last name, Lienkaemper. At the time, I was very much on the 00:37:00lookout for papers and people who were looking at questions about the effects of human timber harvest activities on rivers and watersheds. I was aware that there wasn't a lot or work, for something I had presumed was a very well-documented area, I mean this was from my river guide days. And one thing I didn't emphasize, was that when I was at the University of Oregon, I was very, very strongly involved with the outdoor community, which was really the environmental community at the time. People who were very interested in preserving the wilderness, I had a very strong feeling about wanting to protect and preserve wilderness, and as far as I could tell, the timber companies were raping and 00:38:00pillaging the land. Everyone knew that that had to effect everything else, right? Of course, it affected the fish, and the creeks were filling up with sediment because this was happening.

I figured it was so much a part of the common parlance around these issues, that as soon as one got into the literature, one would find a basis for all these opinions. Well, it turns out that I got into it and discovered that, no, there wasn't that basis at all, and in fact, very few people had actually looked at it in any systematic kind of way. What I became aware of, was that there was a distinction between the people who were looking at it at a very small scale, and I put the Andrews work into that category. That is, people who are interested in this little tiny creek. You know, you log it, and see what happens. That seemed to be something that was happening at the Andrews; you use small watersheds for 00:39:00letting you look at the movement of sediments, nutrients, or just water. I became aware of the wealth of work that had already occurred along these lines. But I was more interested in these larger channels, at least I thought I was. As it turns out, my dissertation work was kind of betwixt and between the larger channels that I had floated five years, and these little tiny things. So, it's kind of in the meeting ground, sort of an intermediate scale, between the two [small and large].

I really became aware of the Andrews work as being sort of micro-scale stuff. But it was interesting, because as I talked with Jim [Sedell] and Fred [Swanson] and Stan [Gregory] and others, I became aware that they too, were interested in this larger scale, they just hadn't done anything with it yet. The work at that time, probably the work in Redwood Creek in northern California which Fred 00:40:00seemed to be involved in, at least in a consultative nature, was the largest enterprise that was looking at some of the big channel issues and what became known as the issue of cumulative effects. That's really the question of how does the landscape level series of what Reds Wolman referred to as insults, translate into something that changes the channel. That began to emerge as a key policy issue as well as a science issue, and the Clean Water Act requires that you dealt with that, as did NEPA, the National Environmental Protection Act. And the federal agencies were just beginning to grapple with how do you deal with 00:41:00cumulative effects, you know, something which by its nature not the effect of one thing, but the whole. My work was taking one aspect of that cumulative effect question, looking if there is a kind of fingerprint or legacy manifestation of watershed impact in the channels, inset within that larger role. The Andrews work, thought more of direct impacts as opposed to cumulative impacts, which began to be featured, was featured prominently as a kind of thought experiment. You know, people would say, "Well, let's take a watershed, let's say you took Watershed 1 and you did it all over, then what?" They say, it 00:42:00became a way of arguing from the smaller scale to the larger scale. And that's really where I began to encounter the Andrews work for the first time.

Geier: You said earlier that you at least had an understanding with Fred, that there would be some funding from the Forest Service. Is that right?

Grant: A pittance (Chuckle). As it turns out, he managed to work some deal, putting something together with what I was getting from Hopkins, basically, cobbled-together. Mainly, it was having an office, a place to sit down; room 363 [USFS Forest Sciences Lab in Corvallis], on a bench. You know, just have a place to land, in which I could say I was doing the science of rivers in Oregon. That was really valuable, and beyond that, I began to realize was that it gave me an entree into this whole world of other people who were doing this kind of work.


Geier: Had you had any exposure up to that point of other people working for the PNW Station or Forest Service outside the Andrews?

Grant: No, my first exposure was coming here to this lab and sitting by the hallway and getting introduced to guys like Dennis Harr and Logan Norris, and it was the first time I had even been in a federal laboratory of any sort. And I had all these misconceptions, some of them turned out not to be misconceptions, about what federal laboratories are like. But it was interesting for me to be in a laboratory, where I had been in a biochemistry laboratory before, and there was still that kind of work going on. There was a water quality, a water chemistry, and a large pesticide effort at that time, because of the interest in 00:44:00dioxins, that Logan was leading, the effects of forest spraying on dioxins. But I didn't really know much about what went on in the lab. I knew the people who were working on things; "He's a chemist and is working with spraying and the issues around that," but I didn't really get a conception of the breadth of the work. It seemed too much of a headache to figure it out. I mean, I was always impressed with guys like Fred [Swanson] or Jerry Franklin who seemed to have in their minds, and Logan too. Logan was project leader with the Forest Service. And at that time, Jerry and the terrestrials were down on the second floor under 00:45:00Jerry [Franklin], and the water and stream physical types, plus the chemists, were all marching under Logan. It was sort of the never-the-twain-shall-meet except when we would go up to the Andrews and you would hear about these guys talking about this stuff.

The other thing that happened I remember, was that I went on one of Jerry Franklin's "pulses" to the Sierras. That really was my first really extended entree into the group. That was three days in a van getting down to the Sierras and camping out, it rained as I recall, and a lot of time spent around the fire. Art McKee, I remember being very impressed with his ability to spin a yarn around a campfire. And I was impressed by the overall friendliness of the group. 00:46:00One of the issues with any kind of large group that has an identity and a focus, is the question, how does it admit newcomers and outsiders, people who had not been with the group up to that point. I found it to be a very permeable membrane, in large part because there was an established conduit for graduates. There was a graduate student experience that seemed to lend itself well to bringing new people in. But I wonder if we are still doing that as well as we did back then. I remember at the time, just feeling that there was a very effortless sort of acceleration into this group thing. But the other thing, I've 00:47:00never been much of a groupie kind of guy, and so, if you'd asked me what I was doing and what group I was attached with, I was probably more inclined to say Hopkins at that time, than I would have said the Andrews program. I didn't put that "hat" on for a long time, and a lot of it, I think there may have been some "disciplinism" attached to that. I didn't feel a natural affinity because of the number of other people doing physical processes on rivers in my graduate school experience. I mean, everybody was focused around doing rivers, or something like that. Here, I was alone in my area with the exception of Fred, and Fred's focus was more ecological at that point. He was clearly very interested in what I was doing, but he was doing a lot of things on landslides. No one else was doing 00:48:00physical processes of rivers. And it is hard when you are a graduate student or even coming out of that role where you sort of say, this is my turf, and I am going to make something happen here and I was sort of doing that, but not with any real conscious intent to do so. I mean, I was just trying to finish my dissertation.

Geier: Were there other graduate students there that you were working with at all, or it sounds more like of a scientist that you were?

Grant: No, it was a mix. I think Fred was definitely my major point-of-contact. But I shared an office with Margaret [McHugh], another one of Fred's students, who was working on landslides, and I would meet other students who would sort of fade in and out. Fred had a number of students who were going to finish "any day now" for several years (chuckle) as I recall, and they would sort of appear and 00:49:00then disappear again, go back into the woodwork. But then, I began to establish some friendships with some of the people in the ecology realm, and Gordie had been sort of the guy to get me here, and he and I were friends. But he was clearly into the fisheries end of things. So, my memory of my dissertation work was that I was going outside this group, when I needed field assistance. I would run an ad in the paper and try to get people to agree to spend a couple days with me in mapping a creek, in exchange for some, you know, macaroni and cheese and chanterelles, with maybe a bottle of wine to wash it down with. That was that. But I don't recall having strong contacts, friendships, or relationships 00:50:00with other students at that time.

Geier: In terms of recruiting assistance, sounds like at that time you were operating pretty low budget for support in your research?

Grant: I was sort of at a low budget level, and I just sort of pictured myself as having eked out some little niche somewhere where I had enough to keep me alive, trying to stay focused on finishing my degree. Same time I had a long-distance relationship with Barbara, my current, (chuckle) wife. Part of what was happening as well, was that I would go back to visit her, and some of those visits were extended visits of several months, where I would also go back to Hopkins. But it's funny because there too, the community was changing, as 00:51:00most of the people in my generation were out doing things like what I was, and there was a new crop of graduate students coming up, so I became friends with them. But that was a limited kind of exposure.

Geier: What facilities or resource needs did you have when you started to work, in terms of things you actually needed to get the work done? You mentioned the bench to sit down here.

Grant: Well, I'll tell you. See that? Barbara gave that to me when I got my degree. It is a little bit presumptuous with the degree thing, but, those tools you see, are marble. That is a silver compass, and that is a stadia rod, and that is about it. That is what I used. I was doing mostly mapping and some air photo work. And it was really a very low-budget production. The other thing that 00:52:00I got, the one facility that I loved, was a word processor. This was right when computers were beginning to come on line. We didn't have computers around here for the first couple of years. I mean there were computers, but you needed a card reader, and a computer was something somebody else used. But the idea of having a word processor, access to a word processor, that was marvelous. And then, shortly after that, the early PC's and IBM's began to make themselves felt. Then, when I discovered Lotus 1-2-3, hey, I was off. So, that that was the other facility that really made things better. And the other thing was a 00:53:00resource, although it was not a physical resource, but the field crew. I was impressed by Al [Levno], and Craig [Creel] [field technicians]. George Lienkaemper was working for them, Ross Mersereau, and I am forgetting names, but there were other people there. Al and Ross and George; I was very drawn to that group. Because these were guys who really enjoyed getting wet and going out and doing things, and were very interested in streams and the whole work of keeping the gauges going, the weather station going; really the core of their stuff. And while I don't recall using them directly, as they weren't so much a part of my 00:54:00research, I would stay in their cabin at night when I came back to the Andrews. So, there was a kind of osmosis that happened there, and I began to realize these were guys that could solve any problem. If I needed to figure out how to paint numbers on rocks so I could measure them moving down stream and the numbers would stay, these were guys that could figure it out. Why don't you get a blow torch and dry them out, and then paint it. You know, and they would come up with solutions like that for what ails you.

Geier: Maybe you could talk a little bit about your perceptions at that time of how the Andrews compared with other experimental forests. Had you any previous experience with them?

Grant: That is an interesting question, but I had had no real exposure to other experimental forests. The one thing close that I had had a lot of exposure to 00:55:00was Woods Hole, Massachusetts. And Woods Hole is a science town. You have to remember that my father was a biologist, I grew up in the world of biologists, so to suddenly be in this world of ecologists, there was a certain resonance there. I recognized the type. But Woods Hole, I don't know if you have ever been there, it's sort of a scientific mecca. It is what happens if you were to take a New England fishing village and marry it to three major scientific enterprises, then add a tourist ferry to take tourists to the island, all of this in a town smaller than Philomath, a little tiny dot on the map.

Geier: Hole in the woods, right?


Grant: Well, it's on the ocean. I mean it's a peninsula, it juts out, it is in the "armpit" of Cape Cod. But a marvelous place, particularly if you're a boy. The ocean is there, it is a warm ocean, you can swim in it, you can boat in it. I mean, I got this major dose of boat [referencing love of water craft]. But the reason it's there, is it's got these major scientific laboratories there, the Marine Biological lab, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Lab, and Fisheries Service. The town lives and breathes science. I mean, you go to the beach and it's just littered, you know, there will be three Nobel Prize winners sitting in their baggy shorts eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it's that deeply 00:57:00steeped in science enterprise. Students come in every summer, and so that's the model I had. That's what I was comparing the Andrew's to, was that, what really was fully-configured, big buildings and all the high-tech sophistication of modern biology.

All the collecting boats I used to work on as a kid, and so there would be field crews, sort of field technical people helping. And so the Andrews was like a little tiny, tiny, tiny version of this, stuck up in the trees. That is what I thought of it, and the contrast was kind of funny because Woods Hole, you have a sense of this kind of lofty scientific enterprise. The buildings are made out of 00:58:00brick, you walk in and there is a hallway that has sort of been padded on by all the greats, in the field, you know, the people you read about in the 1920's and '30's, these guys have all done work in Woods Hole. And so, you contrast that and the smell of dead squid and formaldehyde, and ethanol in the halls to this funky trailer stuck out in the woods that had been skunked the summer before and hasn't quite lost its aroma. It was a marvelous, but at the same time a somewhat off-putting contrast.

[Tape Break]

Grant: It slowly began to dawn on me as I hung out at the place, that this was a 00:59:00microcosm and maybe even the way the MBL [Marine Biological Lab] started and how it got going. But it was a slow realization that I was in on something which was already clearly a going concern, you know, I had no role in getting it going, but it still felt young and fresh.

Geier: Feeling like you contributed to the evolution of the place?

Grant: That is right.

Geier: You had done some river guide work up there on the McKenzie River. Had you been at all aware of the forest at that time? I also imagine you went through Blue River?

Grant: Only in the sense of having a feeling for the forest. I mean, it was just a feeling, sort of an aesthetic sense of smell and texture and rain and mist. 01:00:00But, I had been by the Andrews turn off road many, many times, but I don't recall ever having gone up there, and I didn't really have a sense of it, that there was science going on in this river valley as well as everything else. So for me, it has been an interesting experience. I think about this sometimes because, the McKenzie, when I was a river guide, was like my bread and butter. The bread and butter river and so we would do, I don't know, 50, 75 day trips, a summer. Driving that road was like, back of my hand. I really knew that road. And it was interesting to start driving that same road but taking the turnoff and going off way over there. I was aware that my life had taken a different 01:01:00direction than that. But other than that, I hadn't really thought much about what was going on.

Geier: Can you recall the communities along that road. You know like Blue River itself, or McKenzie Bridge or --?

Grant: I remember Vi's Pies. There was a good pie shop, Doris' Cafe, which burned down. I remember, this goes back to my early year in Oregon, when I came in '66. Now I realize that was two years after the 1964 flood. I remember some very early images of the McKenzie River from that time because my family, they were all east coasters but my parents to their credit, really wanted to give us some exposure to this new home. We would take these Sunday drives, usually my father, for some reason or other, would pick a reservoir we would go to visit. 01:02:00We would go up and see Hills Creek reservoir. We would go see Cougar Reservoir. I mean, they were lakes, big, big lakes. For all I know, we may have actually driven up to Blue River Reservoir on one these long drives. Which again, I remember mostly for fighting with my brothers and sisters in the back seat. But I remember driving along the river, and it was kind of wide and open. I am not talking about communities now, but Blue River actually, what I was thinking about was that there was some stuff happening on the road around Blue River, that I think was part of what forced them to put the highway outside town, because the old road used to go through Blue River, and then they moved it. I remember that when you drove up, when you drove the McKenzie, that you actually drove through this town called Blue River, and at some point, there was a lot of road construction, and then you didn't drive through the town anymore.

I do remember the river was wide, it seems like there was a lot of gravel in it. 01:03:00It was easy to look out of your car window and see the river. Now, it's got vegetation around it and it is hard to see the river, except in a couple places. So, I realize now that what I was seeing was the aftermath of the flood in '64. But at the time it just seemed, that was just the river.

Geier: You mentioned that you were involved in some groups while you were at U of O who were kind of interested in the natural world. Had those groups been active in the valley at all?

Grant: Very interesting question. The issue, the focal point, for those outdoor groups, was exclusively wilderness. Anything that wasn't wilderness was sort of passed over, stuff that you passed over to get to the wilderness, from what I remember. And there was, it was never really talked about, but the wilderness 01:04:00was considered to be so sacred, everything else was profane. See, you didn't spend much time in the profane. I mean, the profane was not that interesting. What I wanted when I thought of rivers, was wilderness rivers, wilderness areas. I wanted to protect wild and scenic rivers. That was the motivation, everything was entirely focused on that.

That is an interesting point, because I remember for me to start working in the Andrews in a place that had been logged and roaded and had lots of people and history, I had to kind of swallow something to do that. Because my instincts were all pushing me, in fact my dissertation work, it is interesting because I wanted to study the effect of human beings on rivers. I did most of my work in a wilderness area, because I needed a way of comparing streams in wilderness 01:05:00versus streams that had been cut over, and there was no good description of what a mountain stream looked like, whether in a wilderness area or in some place else. So what I thought I needed to do was to go to a wilderness area and establish a reference point, and then go somewhere else. Well, I ended up spending most of my time in the wilderness area, but I distinctly remember the feeling for me, it was almost kind of a come down. I had to come down from the mountain, the lofty mountain peaks and the wilderness, to think about working in the Andrews. I remember that even with Fred, and in Fred's class, wanting to talk about wilderness rivers and wilderness processes, and he wanted to talk about logging, and I didn't want to talk about logging. That seemed liked more of what was screwing the world, and I don't want to talk about that. So it's an 01:06:00interesting kind of thing, and I wonder if that's still the case for people, and I think one of the major changes in the way we think about environmental issues is that we are more willing to view the human issues as being geographically integrated in a place.

Geier: I was just curious, as an undergraduate at U of O, if you might ever noticed the difference in culture, going up the valley from Eugene to Blue River, or did people there notice you?

Grant: They didn't notice me that I know. What I noticed, what I was most aware of going up on the McKenzie, well, was the fishing. That is what I thought of 01:07:00when I drove up here, was a lot of people fishing. I didn't really think about logging. I thought about fishing and I thought about, I knew, some people who had a summer getaway home up there. That is how I viewed these little dots of cabins going up the road. These are getaway homes. I sort of view the McKenzie, and certainly my experience reflects that, was that it was sort of a recreational place. You know, people went fishing there or you went on the reservoir to go fishing. So I don't recall any feelings other than that about the environment.

Geier: When working on the dissertation, eventually you went back to John Hopkins to finish?

Grant: Actually, I didn't. What happened, was about 1985 or so, '84, '85, Dick 01:08:00Fredriksen, who was a hydrologist along with Dennis Harr. There were a number of people doing rivers. Dick was one of them. He was really the man behind the small watershed studies, and he retired. And that opened up his position, By this time Logan [Norris] had left to go to the university, Dennis Harr was the project leader, I was still not finished with my Ph.D., and they were looking to find somebody who could come in behind, to sort of take Dick's job. I remember 01:09:00Dennis saying to me at the time, "Would this be something that you would be interested in?" I said, "Of course, yes." He said, "Well, we don't know what we are going to do, and there was some talk about having a broader search." But it's interesting because the stories about people sort of getting their jobs because they were in the right place at the right time, and the "good ol' boy system" sure worked. That sort of happened for me, I was studying something considered to be relevant, I was in place, I was a known quantity, and although I was a known, I was known as a graduate student. What I now realize is that people sort of had to take a chance. Was I going to pan out or what? It was very 01:10:00unlike today, a very easy segue into a job. There was a call for it, I applied for it, and I wrote the job description. Dennis said, "What do you think this person ought to do?" And I said, "Something about mountain rivers." (Chuckle). It is interesting how many people do get their jobs that way, at least in the past. I think it has broadened, and the nature of the job seemed to change, so it is much harder to do that now. Basically, it was, sort of show up, hang up, like Woody Allen says, "you show up." That is kind of what happened for me.

Geier: From that point on, from '85 on, who would you identify as being your closest collaborator, people that you worked with mostly on a day to day basis?

Grant: Fred [Swanson] remains that to me, and in some senses he has always been my closest collaborator in this environment because of his disciplinary focus, 01:11:00and our long history now, which is going on 25 years. That has really expanded the last 10 years to include a much wider group. But starting in '85, it was Fred and George [Lienkaemper], who at this point was still in the field, but I think beginning to look other places to be a professional. Also, Jim Sedell somewhat. Through Jim, I worked on one project in parallel with my dissertation up on the Breitenbush River, and Jim was heavily involved in that. Then Dennis, who was never really a close colleague, he was more of a presence. Dennis was a singular guy, kind of a very spirited guy who did very good hydrology. But he 01:12:00enjoyed to joke as much as any man I ever met. He once wrote an entire scientific paper as a joke, I mean, with fake references, a major piece of work to craft this thing with this level of detail and precision. I forget what it was about. So, Dennis and I would have great conversations, but I wasn't that close to him, really, in a collegial way. In many respects, I wish that I had picked his brain a little more than I did at the time. He was more of a hydrologist. I mean, he was doing water. Part of it was my own tendency to put 01:13:00people in boxes. Well there's Fred, who was doing landslides, Dennis was doing water, and I was doing channels, so it's kind of interesting, because in a group scene like this.

I'm just globalizing a bit, but in a group scene, there really are two countervailing instincts that are asked of participants. You have to be able to speak with authority on at least one area that is of general interest. In Wolman's words, you have to know something about something. And so, there is a kind of, I want to call it turf, but I don't think people defend it, although some of that goes on too. It's a domain, a plan of action, a portfolio, if you 01:14:00will, of issues and tools and techniques and studies you have already done, or studies you are doing now that defines your piece of the puzzle. When you're early on in a group, a lot of your struggles, and I suspect this may be more true for men than for women, but I suspect this is true for anyone trying to break into a group to define a turf or define a domain, and it's particularly difficult if there is somebody already in that domain, as there is a lot of niche selection going on. It's an ecosystem, you come into that like a new organism trying to figure out where it can go. You find those places where you can feed and do your thing, while everyone else does their thing in ways that don't conflict and, and extract too much energy. So, there is that going on and at the same time, you're asked to, to sort of submerge your own instincts, which 01:15:00might be to say, "Well, stream channels are the most important thing in the entire universe, and everybody should pay attention." You have to sort of submerge that and say, "Wait a minute, there are other people doing other things that are also interesting and relevant and important. I have to listen and pay attention to them as well as ask them to pay attention to me." That is something that comes with time, and it comes with you as you grow confidence in your area, your own field, and your own abilities, and then it becomes easier in some cases, to hear other people. You don't have always be out to prove yourself anymore, and in order for the collective scene to work well, you have to have a critical mass of people who are doing both; both supporting and sort of developing their own professional "tap root," but at the same time letting their 01:16:00branches intertwine, if you don't mind the metaphor.

Geier: You mentioned earlier that the pulse to the Sierras was kind of a point where you kind of began to be part of that group, and so that '85 you already felt pretty well intersected with them?

Grant: Yes and no. I mean, it was interesting because of how things go, how to feel a part of a group. You get invited to things, or you show up even if you're not invited, and they take you in. It's that kind of thing. I never really lived for a summer at the Andrews the way some people did, or lived for a year at the Andrews the way other people did. It was more of a general agreement that if there was going to be an evening party, or if there was going to be a discussion, or a symposium about something, that one way you feel a part of it, 01:17:00is if your piece of the action gets recognized. You get on the agenda, you get face time. At the Andrews, one thing I learned early on is that the field trip, which was largely a process of sitting, driving around nauseous in a van, getting out and having somebody stand in front of something and talk at you. The Andrews field trips were of that sort. That was a major mode of communication, so participation in those was what I used as a metric of involvement or engagement. Much more so than going to meetings. I didn't start going to the LTER meetings on any kind of regular way, and I still do it irregularly, as I can take some of that in measured doses.


The other thing that happened at the time, that was really the significant melding event for me, was based on work that Fred was doing and I was doing, including stuff spinning out of my Ph.D. research. We got together with Stan Gregory and his troops, and put together a second-generation riparian grant. When I got out to the Andrews, the riparian one was a major focus, and there was a lot of interest in this sort of "river continuum" idea. Much of that work escaped me. That was going on around me, but I never really understood it, to be honest, I mean, I never fully got the picture of what people were trying to do. I would hear bits and pieces of it. There was a lot of interest in organic 01:19:00matter cycling, and I remember going out with Fred and Steve Cline. They were interested in sticky wickets and how sticks sort of get smashed together to form a debris jam, and they had some experiments going, and people were dumping gingko leaves into streams to see how far they went. Some of this seemed to me to be pretty ecological. I mean, again I was really focused on the physical stuff. I didn't quite get it all, the picture of what all this different work was headed towards. But then, I think it was '85, or so, maybe '86, somewhere in there, that grant ended. There were some discussions we had been having up until, that started happening as that grant was ending. They were both acquainting people with what had been discovered, but also sort of preparing for the next go-around, where the idea of using the physical structure of the stream 01:20:00as an organizing principle, began to emerge. Basically, the "Riparian One" in a nut shell, was, "You tell me what trees are next to the stream and I will tell you what's in the stream." "Riparian Two" changed that, saying, "You tell me about the geomorphic setting the stream is flowing through, or creating the stream, and I will tell you what is in the stream." That was really the place. So that was really for me, the coming together of the physical and the ecological in a grant, in a joint enterprise.

Geier: This was one that you helped write with Stan Gregory and --

Grant: -- And Fred [Swanson]. And there were a lot of discussions that led up to that. It was my first real exposure to grant-writing, and you have to understand that when you're a graduate student, you don't know nothing, you don't ever get to see how people work. How do you write a paper, how do you put a grant 01:21:00proposal together, how do you do the basic stuff of science? You learn that by osmosis, by hanging out with people, and so, for me, what I got here, and it was probably the most important thing I got here, was I got to watch how people did that, up front and personal. I got to see it. I got to see people having the discussions that led up to a grant proposal, and as I recall I wrote some pieces of it. My memory is that Stan [Gregory] really, really pushed it hard, and Fred did as well.

Geier: If the LTER meetings weren't that important, and in the sense that the field trips were more, people talking about their work, where did you get this exposure to this process that went into the groundwork?

Grant: Those were the meetings that I went to. At the meetings, people would come and talk about here's what we did in Riparian One, what are we going to do 01:22:00in Riparian Two. And then, next meeting, come and put a little synopsis together of what you got. You know, write, then I would see someone take those synopses and pull them together into something, and write some text to go around it. A lot of what I was doing, was watching how people wrote. And one of the things that I really got, Fred [Swanson] particularly, Fred was a great editor. He would take my long-winded, rambling, unfocused prose and do something with it, turn it into something that actually said what I wanted it to say in about half the words. He hasn't been able to help verbal expression very much, but that's where I began to learn how, how you think science and how you really do it in a day-to-day kind of way.

Geier: When you started out in the position that Dick Fredriksen left, you were 01:23:00coming into the Forest Service at that point. You got an appointment at OSU, a courtesy appointment, about the same time didn't you, about '85?

Grant: Another thing that was happening then is the first course that I took from Fred. He was still teaching it over in the geoscience department, and early on in my tenure here he asked, do you want to help me with the course? So, I find myself suddenly helping to teach. And it worked out pretty well because his course, he had done mostly landslides, but some hill slope processes and some streams, and I came in with a very strong stream orientation, but not knowing a whole lot about hill slopes. So we began to sort of divide it. He would take the hill slope and I would take the stream, and as a product of that I began to learn how to teach, which meant I had to learn it all over again. And so I had 01:24:00been an instructor, I was a courtesy instructor in geosciences, even before I got my degree. And then that's sort of translated through the years. But, yeah, that was another thing that was happening.

Geier: I was curious, all the interaction you talked about this learning process in grant writing. I was wondering how much interaction with colleagues in programs in geology or other programs, did you have on campus here?

Grant: Stan was my major point of contact at that time as I recall. Bob Beschta as well.

Geier: Bob?

Grant: Beschta. In the Forest Engineering department [OSU]. That was in part because in '85 or '86, we got the idea of putting together an international 01:25:00symposium on erosion and sedimentation in the Pacific Rim, in Corvallis. Fred [Swanson], Bob Beschta, George Ice, and I, worked on that together. That was really a one-and-a-half to two-year effort. That was another sort of a learning crucible for me; how do you put a meeting together, how do you think about a meeting. So, I had some interactions with Bob around that, and scattered interactions with lots of people throughout my tenure here. I just don't remember any really close, on-going, involvement with anyone other than Fred.


One of the things clear to me early on was that the distinction between the Forest Service and the university, was a very subtle one. Basically, I saw Fred and people like Logan [Norris], treating their jobs with the Forest Service the way I would imagine anyone at the university treats their job. That was modeled for me as the way one conduct's one's self. That felt very comfortable for me. I was quite used to the academic lifestyle, and I felt, given my background, working for Forest Service Research was never exactly what I had in mind. I always pictured going out and getting an academic job somewhere, and continued to think I should apply for jobs in addition to that after I got my Ph.D., but 01:27:00began to realize that it was not the best path forward. I could do as much research as I wanted to, or as little, (chuckle), but did as much as I wanted. But I could also have a university presence, and I could teach. And so, all of that contributed to my sense of what it meant to be a scientist, and I didn't define that by university or non-university.

I think the theme for me was one of slowly pushing my head above the murk of being a graduate student and thinking like a graduate student. When you think like a graduate student, you think about your world and your universe. I was aware there were lots of people thinking broader than that, thinking about a 01:28:00group. I began to think a little bit like that, but mostly I still thought about myself as a graduate student. And it's been a slow process, which is on-going, to think more broadly and globally about the group as an entity to which one has personal responsibility. That's emerged only with time. It isn't something you just do, and I can see institutional forces that could make that either easy or hard. In this setting, my experience with it was really easy. The environment we lived in was so loose and flexible, that it was entirely possible to be working for the Forest Service, to have close connections with the university, and to be 01:29:00doing things which might have looked to the outside world as if they were coming from the university, even though they were coming through Forest Service Research. And nobody cared.

Now, that has changed. That is still one of the most significant changes in my professional career, those distinctions have begun to play more of a role, and there are pluses and minuses to both ways. At the time though, I was just really impressed by the fluidity of the work environment. Largely that was because of guys like Fred [Swanson] and Jerry [Franklin]. Jerry was really central, as was Logan [Norris]. I think Logan was really a key guy in terms of helping people adopt a "just do it" mentality. I mean, just do it, don't break any laws, don't get people pissed at you, but just do it. Jerry certainly operated out of that 01:30:00philosophy, Fred and Dennis too. Dennis Harr is another example of that loose leadership style. I think that is very important. I think that probably is one of the major ingredients that made the Andrews work early on.

Geier: Was Logan Norris department chair when you got here?

Grant: No, he was project leader. He did what Fred's job is now. Then, there was Dennis [Harr], and then he went over to university. But the thing that always impressed me about Logan was the very thoughtful and intelligent take he gave on things, and with good instincts. I mean, good feeling for where "the line" was. That's one of the things you had to be aware of, was you just couldn't do anything you wanted, but you had to pay attention, for example, there are issues 01:31:00out there in the world, and you can pretend you're not interested in them, but then, they come in and get you. It's a much better philosophy to be attentive to what is going on. You think, "What if this thing sort of burbles up into a major kind of thing? What can I be doing now that is going to put me in the right place if that happens?" They are gambles, and you have to trust your instincts and what your intuition tells you is going to be something important versus something that is not. But, that seemed to be working back then. There were various issues that were burbling along.

Someone I haven't talked about but was another undercurrent, to try and paint at this time, is the policy. I presume that this is something relevant to this 01:32:00discussion, but the policy context for all of this work was another piece of the learning curve for me, personally, and in retrospect, is what I now recognize as one of the most salient aspects of the whole environment around here. Early on, I came into the game thinking, well, I am going to drive a stake through the heart of the timber companies, proving that they're raping and pillaging the land. Now, I had some notion what this was, the sort of issues motivating this work. Then, as I watched Logan deal with the spraying [herbicides] issues, I became aware, no pun intended, how volatile the environment around forest issues 01:33:00was or could be. In general, the arena I was in seemed to be fairly sedate by comparison. Old growth, or forest protection issues, were really key, but for the most part these were framed very broadly in terms of protecting old trees and old growth and old forests. And as the '80's went on, the birds were attached to that, and then, fish and other things as well. And there was always a line in these things about how cutting trees causes sedimentation which fills up the gravel for the fish. Again, as if this is known to everybody everywhere. Incidentally, I should mention that one of the products of my Ph.D. research, is 01:34:00that I had a devil of a time finding streams that were radically different as a result of timber harvest. This was one of the big come-uppances for me, is that I expected to find that cutting trees turns everything blue. (Chuckles) I couldn't find blue streams, you know, metaphorically-speaking.

The policy issues out there emerged for me mostly around this issue of cumulative effects, that the agencies of National Forest systems were beginning to try to work out. I found that my colleagues and relationships developed with people, often with other researchers, sort of in my position but at another laboratory. Like Redwood Sciences Lab, in [Arcata] California, is another lab 01:35:00where there is a much higher concentration of people actually doing river-watershed type-of-processes, and here also with people who were actually on national forests themselves, working to solve these problems, or people who were regional hydrologists. So a lot of my professional work and linkages, and the transfer of the science, was directed towards that, as opposed, for example, towards students or the university, for my career. That just turns out to have foreshadowed what really began to coalesce in the late '80's as critical policy issues formed around, certainly fish, and the relationship between physical processes and fish habitat, became more and more of a concern, and people began to discover more and more about linkages between forests and logs, and logs and 01:36:00streams, and logs and fish.

And this again is what started in many cases, or at least was really given a boost, by the early Andrews' reports. So people coming back ten years later, and really emphasizing these issues. There was a big meeting in Seattle, I remember, in '87, in which a lot of this forest-fish interaction was really being highlighted. And it was the same meeting, you know, they had the same meeting in '92, and we were commenting at how some people may have not even taken their slides out of their trays from '87, there was a lot of the same stuff, so this was becoming much more current. But it began to be manifest a number of different ways, as the old-growth issues really got booming, and guys like Jerry Franklin began talking about "new forestry," and asking, what does this mean? I 01:37:00saw some real implications, some of the effects on hydrology, on sediment and wood and so forth. Some of my work was orientated towards trying to bring some of these issues out, but it's really been the '90's when these watershed things have just gone, "ka-boom," and the complete merging of the fish issues into the forest protection issues. The recognition of the fish problems has been regional in scope, sort of mega-regional in scope. And then the major science assessment effort and strong role in the fish issue there, that really brought this policy, 01:38:00set it with these policy issues, out and into the open.

Geier: In terms of these issues [hydrology and forestry], were there people at the region or district that you have worked with in terms of those issues?

Grant: Yes, guys that were early regional hydrologists. These were people I would need to interact with at meetings, like Jerry [Swank], Dallas Hughes, and Jerry [Christner], early on at the Willamette [National Forest], a major entrée for me. Jerry Christner was really a key guy, in fact, during my dissertation, he played a very important role, helping me develop it. There was a whole bunch of guys from California, John Rictor, the Redwood Science people, Dick [Janda], 01:39:00Harvey Kelsey, other geomorphologists, but Dick Janda was a major influence for me.

Geier: Where was he?

Grant: Originally, he was with the Redwood National Park, and then he moved to the U.S. Geological Survey, and eventually to Vancouver, Washington. He was a guy who was very focused in his professional world on the relationship between understanding and using basic geological principles, then translating them into ways that could be interpreted and understood by policy makers and the public-at-large. He did this in Redwood [National] Park, when he argued for the expansion of the park to include trees outside of the place that was being eroded, as a watershed protection measure. He was very involved in the [Mount] 01:40:00St. Helens issue, and was a close colleague of Fred Swanson as well. I should add a side note. St. Helens was a place for me, that although aware a lot of stuff was happening, because it came on line in '80, '81, while I was still back at Hopkins, I only got in on kind of the tail end of that. So, I missed a lot of the bonding that happened around the St. Helens experience. I was very aware, that for guys like Stan [Gregory], Fred, George [Lienkaemper], Jerry Franklin, and others, that this was really a major thing. Interactions between Jerry, Fred, and Stan; a lot of development of ideas happened in that crucible. I kind of came in at the tail end of that. I did a little bit of work up there, but nothing that amounted to much. Dick [Janda] had been very much a piece of that, and I think the policy issues around the park, he continued with that. So he was 01:41:00kind of a role model for me, for how you start thinking about these issues, and how you think about the policy implications at the same time that you are doing the science.

Let me just add something. The work I did with Jim Sedell on the Breitenbush River became involved in a lawsuit again over this cumulative-effects issue. So, I had my one and only experience being dragged into court as a reluctant, what do they call it, hostile witness, and which was actually quite interesting, because I was in the position of having information which I thought was potentially useful to the plaintiffs in this case who were suing the government over logging in the Breitenbush River.

Geier: Who were the plaintiffs?

Grant: There was the Breitenbush community, and then the Sierra Club might have 01:42:00been involved, and there were a couple others, but they sued to stop logging, sort of around this cumulative-effects issue. That was for me, a real singular event of being sort of pulled into policy issues, having them overtake a place where I had just been doing work on when the logs move in streams. I hadn't been studying this cumulative effect issue at all, in fact, in this place, but I have been overtaken by circumstance. So that taught me, A) That that can actually happen, B) When that happens, you sort of lose control of it, and C) It's a pretty squirrelly process. Hard to ride, hard to know what is going on, happens quick, lots of surprises, people don't always act rationally, or diplomatically. 01:43:00There was a steep learning curve about some of the follow-up on policy, and what happens when you get too close to that business. That was in the legal arena, but then that also showed up, for example, in FEMAT and other instances, I saw a lot of the same behaviors down the road.

Geier: How would you describe the situation getting out of your control in that lawsuit?

Grant: Just that I remember, for example, we had been asked to have phone conversations with people who were interested in pursuing this suit from the plaintiff's side. And I would send them papers, four or five, done. I always ran to Fred, and asked, "Fred can I do this?" He said, "Yeah, it's published, it's public, you can send it." And I didn't really have a huge agenda there, I was 01:44:00just interested to see what was going to happen. But I also felt that they could reasonably pursue a case, that there was some evidence that suggested logging had had some effect here, unlike some other places. I began to be aware that these guys didn't seem to know a whole a lot about what they were talking about, I mean, they were just sort of using these papers as clubs, as if, literally, you rolled them up and hit people with them. Without really understanding the details, and maybe you didn't need to, but it seemed to me that there was more of a use if you actually understood and read them, than if you just used them as a club. Then there were other issues. For example, I got subpoenaed to give oral testimony, and just being in that room with people trying to extract information from me with a lawyer who was trying to keep me from giving information, for the 01:45:00government. Then my own instincts, which were just focused on trying to figure out what it was I thought about the questions as they came at me, and then sort of going one direction, and having the guy sort of switch the questioning, go from some having to give some very general statements about how rivers work, to being asked, "And all of this would be true about the Breitenbush River, would it not?" I said, "Wait a minute, I have been talking very generally here, I would have to talk --" The lawyer said, "Well what wouldn't be true?" "We have just talked for two hours?" and "We will read it back to you." Suddenly, you realize you've sort of been led down the primrose path, and I was naïve in the way I was dealing with it. Just being aware that once that happens, the rules of science and scientific rational discourse, looking at and weighing the evidence, doesn't apply enough in a court setting very much. It probably does, maybe at the very end, but everything leading up to it is a battle and a fight.


A lot of policy issues have this sort of military model in them with battle metaphors attached. And it took me awhile, and I am still learning, how do you talk from the point-of-view of a scientist in the context of where your work is embedded in this highly-charged, polarized environment, where your words can easily be taken out of context. Where some part of you might even want your words taken out of context. I mean, how do you handle yourself in that setting? How do you not overstep your bounds? I think that I have become very, very sensitive to that issue, and I think it's really important not to overstep one's bounds, and it is so easy to do, and scientists are given many unbridled or 01:47:00unchecked opportunities to express themselves in some cases. There is still some lingering respect for the profession, but it is easily eroded and I think if people will overstep it, the complete loss of respect for the scientific enterprise vastly outweighs whatever small gains one can make towards what you think on any particular issue. I think it is really critical for people to take it serious. But we are getting afield here.

Geier: Actually --

Grant: Maybe we ought to take a raincheck here, because --

Geier: Do you have a meeting coming up?

Grant: Not in the next while, I don't know how long you want. I've been wandering, I feel like I have been wandering all over the map here.

Geier: You covered a lot of the turf I wanted to cover, but in a different order than I planned, so it's good.

Grant: Means you have to go back though and try and resume it.

Geier: Not a major problem, but I probably could use another hour, but we don't 01:48:00have to do it today if you would rather. However, I did want to follow up here on one thing here.

Grant: My suggestion would be, if you didn't mind, because there are a couple fires, imminent fires that are brewing in policy lines that I sort of have to deal with, and I'm delighted to talk with you. You ask good questions, and mainly, you put up with my rambles.

Geier: There is one thing that I want to get before I forget.

Grant: And present the question, and then we will check the calendar.

Geier: I was just thinking, if your kind of experience you had over the Breitenbush, affected the way in which you think of yourself as a scientist and who your audiences are? Who do you write for when you write an article? Do you think that changed at all since that experience, or maybe you should, in general terms, describe what your audience is when you write as a scientist?

Grant: That's a very good question, Max. Let me reflect on that. I'll tell you 01:49:00my instinctual reaction, and as I am talking about it, let me edit some of my words. My model for scientific writing has always been books like this, from Reds Wolman. I was told by my advisors, in a sense I had two advisors, Wolman and I had Swanson. Reds [Wolman] said to me, "You know, you write every paper as if it's going to be a U.S. Geological Survey professional paper." Which is sort of a cream of the crop, or "You write every paper that is going to be a journal article." I haven't always followed that advice, but the model he gave was that 01:50:00you want everything you do, every talk you give, every paper you do, to be oriented towards the best in the field, and the audience you're writing to as a scientist, is mostly an audience of your peers, of other scientists, of other people who are interested about the same things you are. I have always tried to hold to that because I think that that's ultimately the court of last resort in what we do.

That it is much more important in the long run to be writing for the scientific community, not because science is some kind of god, or I don't have a shrine in my house, and I don't worship at the altar of science. It's a process, and it's an imperfect process, but it is one of the better processes human beings have come up with for figuring out how the world works, how the universe is put 01:51:00together. And there are certain rules about how the process works, and rules. There's got to be repeatability and verifiability, doing things rigorously, and thinking things through. I mean, these are sort of the basic rules, and I think those are principles that I have always tried, but not always been successfully, to cleave to in my writing and in my public speaking. The Breitenbush didn't really change that, but it made me increasingly aware, and I've grown, of the curious environment in which a number of us here do science, compared to, say, the way my father does science. I mean he's doing developmental neuro-biology, and he's working on some model of how a system works. He thinks it's a good 01:52:00model, but maybe it won't pan out, and he'll do some experiments and figure it out, and write a paper one way or the other, and no one really cares, except other people in the field. That is about who he's writing to.

But, it's never going to show up in the newspaper. That's different here. That's one of the most distinctive differences. We're much more in the public eye because of the nature of the issues we work on and because of the level of interest the public has of those issues. And so, when I write a paper, I now have to remember that it's read by lots of people, including lots of people without any training from the field I am in. And I have not fully, to use a word 01:53:00out of the sixties, "grokked," and what that means, but I have come to respect it, and I have come to rue it. I co-authored a paper with Julia Jones, a year-and-a-half ago, and it came out. And you refer to it euphemistically, as the paper from hell. I think it's a good paper, but I don't think that if had a real appreciation for who was going to read it, how they were going to read, how it was going to be used, and how it was going to be misused, there is a lot more that I would have said. Fortunately, I have another shot at it. I have other papers that I can write and other things on that issue. But that paper, probably more than any other, has convinced me of this business of who do you speak to, who do you write to, and the much broader range of people you have to keep in 01:54:00mind when you're writing. That's a lesson I think others have learned at other points in their career, and for me, it's been a growing awareness, rather than any one thing, although this paper on issues surrounding the recent floods just catapulted the work we do into the spotlight. At least for, you know, its 15 minutes of fame.

Geier: Who did you write the paper for?

Grant: The paper was published in Water Resources Research, the main hydrology and water journal. I mean, you would be amazed how many people have gotten a copy of that paper. I don't know how many have read it. But a lot of people have read it, and a lot of people don't understand what's in it, even people who should understand what's in it, don't understand. I don't fully understand it, I 01:55:00mean it's a complex paper. But it's brought the lesson home to me, that in this field, at this time, you cannot pretend that you're just writing for you scientific peers, because you're not. And again, that is something that no one teaches you in graduate school. It's only through experience, and only through certain types of experiences, that you, you get that feeling. And I don't know how it's going to play out. One of things I try to do and I've put a lot of effort into it the last couple of years, is now I deliberately write for non-scientific audiences. I write for the newspaper, I will take it upon myself or working with Fred or others to put together an opinion piece so that I have 01:56:00an outlet, and so that I can clearly try to articulate, what I hope are ways of thinking about the papers when they come out. That's part of what I am trying to do is help people understand it so that when you see a paper about this, here's how you might think about it rather than just sort of using it or misusing it one way or the other.

Geier: Seems like a preface to your actual scientific work; what you are going to publish, not what you have published.

Grant: Well, it's both. It's trying to bring a broader audience along with what I view as really an on-going improvisation around multiple scientific scenarios. That's how I see my work. I think of it in, coming from a musical perspective, having music in my past, I think of it in many respects as a theme, a major, 01:57:00there's clearly some major themes, but there is a lot of variation and a lot of improvisation. A lot of it is seeing things that could be done, or you know, have some ways of pushing this a little bit further, getting something useful out of it, and then trying to bring people along both into the importance of the theme itself, the themes themselves, but then also trying to focus and help people understand how these different variations kind of play off.

Geier: Well maybe we should call a halt here, it sounds like we've got to reschedule here anyway. Um, do you have a time that would work for you?

Grant: Sure.