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Fred Swanson Oral History Interview, November 15, 2013

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Samuel Schmieding: Good afternoon, this is Dr. Samuel J. Schmieding, Courtesy Faculty, Oregon State University College of Forestry. I am here in Corvallis, Oregon, at the home of Dr. Fred Swanson, Senior Scientist with the Forest Service, long-term scientist with the Andrews Experimental Forest. This is interview 2 in our ongoing interview between myself and Dr. Swanson. We are going to pick up here. It's November 15, 2013. We're going to complete the interview, or come close to it, the interview that we began on November 1 here in the same location at Fred's home in south Corvallis. Anyway, we're back on, Fred. So, would you prefer to go into that stuff or do you want to go back to where we ended the last interview. The last interview, by the way, ended in the middle of Fred describing the reason for the campus of the H.J. Andrews Forest 00:01:00being located where it is today.

Fred Swanson: Well, let me just put this one idea down that I've been thinking about because of other writing and discussion assignments. And then we can come back to the Andrews Forest campus location.

SS: Anyway, Fred's going to go on to some points that he was speaking about before we turned on the recorder here. I thought he was practicing, he thought he was being recorded. So, we're going to reiterate that again and perhaps he will be really crystal-clear now that it's round two.

FS: Okay. These thoughts are in the context of the importance of place, especially the Andrews Forest, and then the blast zone at Mount St. Helens. And I view those two places and the activities that have occurred there as "Zen 00:02:00Masters," throwing down interesting riddles, teaching us new lessons by presenting certain phenomena in extreme cases. And awakening us to "aha" moments, not as the product of rigorous analysis of long data streams, but really just intuitive leaps of recognition. On Mount St. Helens, three cases of this sort of learning, come to mind. The first is the biological legacy story. So, the eruption leveled the forest and left it gray over 125 square miles of the blast zone. We were struck by the plants emerging and animals emerging from 00:03:00various nooks and crannies, various refugia, in the first few months after the eruption, and thereafter. Jerry Franklin ran with this notion of the importance of these legacies from the pre-eruption ecosystem, and used that to develop his thinking over the decade after the eruption to about the 1990 period when he was promoting "New Forestry," as an alternative to clear-cutting, which involved leaving live trees and deadwood on the land, and putting the focus on what you leave, rather than on what you take from a site. Those ideas are continuing to 00:04:00be chewed over and argued today 33 years later. Now, the term is "ecological forestry."

SS: By the way, the term "Zen Master," is that something you maybe borrowed from, or at least weaned from your influence and exposure with Gary Snyder?

FS: Well, he certainly is a life-long student of Zen, and so that it is a West Coast-type view. But also, the work on early seral vegetation which Mount St. Helens created and left as a protracted legacy of the eruption. Still, there are areas in front of the volcano, the "pumice plain," that is still a very slow succession. And there is discussion now about the important of early seral in the green forests more generally, because aspects of forest management on both 00:05:00private and public lands for different reasons, the early seral habitats and their complex food webs may be in decline, in extent. At the Andrews, ancient forests, now about 500 years in age, have really brought into sharp focus the nature of old growth. Also the importance of big dead wood on land, the importance of big wood in streams, and importance of viewing roads and streams and riparian zones as networks laced through the patchworks of the forest landscape.

The network thinking is an important contribution to landscape ecology, and the potential value in using and understanding the historic disturbance regime, the historic range of variability concepts in planning future forest management. All 00:06:00of these topics have been in a sense pushed on us by these landscapes. And in that way, the landscapes have been great teachers. I think it's important that we begin to think about this and incorporate these kinds of ideas in the way we educate our future scientists, encouraging them to be open to "aha moments," and not so absorbed in their instrumentation and their data sets and so forth so that they fail to give themselves opportunity to let the land speak to them. Also, these points are entirely consistent with the spirit of LTER, both Long-Term Ecological Research and Reflections [Arts and Humanities programs at HJA] in terms of the surprising outcomes of sustained, place-based inquiry. So, 00:07:00now it's probably time to move on to the topic that we let go at the end of the first interview.

SS: Okay.

(Break in audio)

SS: Now, a little takeoff and what you just said, Fred. You are now, I guess you'd say you are a geomorphologist, an ecological scientist. But going specifically to what you just said about disturbances and disturbance ecology, how has your understanding of that discipline or sub-discipline, theoretical and applied, evolved from when you were a student, an early working professional to now, and maybe you can insert the St. Helens thing in the middle of that gradient?

FS: As a physical process person and earth scientist in an ecosystem group, I always felt like my job was to study death, and a few ecosystems involving life 00:08:00and death. And so, it's a little imbalanced, because most of the practitioners of ecological sciences are life scientists, so I had to work hard to hold up the death end of the equation. But anyway, as a physical process person, I also think it's important in order to understand ecosystem dynamics, it's important to view disturbance agents in their own right, and not only through the lens of how they affect the organisms, the living part of the ecosystem. Let's see, before Mount St. Helens, in the '70s, when I was a post-doc and then, early career Forest Service scientist, I was studying landslides and I began to study fire history. I was interested in wind-throw and floods causing river channel 00:09:00changes. So, I was quite keen on these physical disturbances, examining them one-by-one and trying to interpret their history based on direct observations, the written records, and then also interpretation of land forms and attempts to date them using tree ring techniques, for example, and also, aerial photographs.

Mount St. Helens was particularly interesting and striking because there were a variety of disturbance processes, volcanic and the associated hydrological processes, that banged up a big piece of real estate in the southern Cascades of Washington. There was a giant landslide. There was a lateral blast. There was a vertical tephra plume that then blew off to the east, northeast, and around the 00:10:00globe, and fell out, rained out on the forest. There were mud flows. There were domes that grew within the crater, and then blew up and dumped gravel off to the northeast. And there were pyroclastic flows. It's just a hell of a lot of action, and each of those different volcanic and associated hydrological processes, had a different suite of mechanisms that affected vegetation. It might be erosion or deposition. There was heat-thermal stress from not very hot at all to extreme heat, and then there were impact forces vigorous enough to rip huge trees out of the ground and blow them long distances. And there was 00:11:00abrasion. In some cases, trees were deeply sand-blasted, for example, by some of these processes. So, it was very interesting to study the different processes and their effects on vegetation and then, the response of the ecological systems to those different types of disturbances. So, that greatly enriched our disturbance ecology perspectives.

SS: Now, going to my question list, kind of an addendum list to the regular list about St. Helens. What assumptions, theoretical and otherwise, did you and others on your U.S. Forest Service team carry into the blast zone, especially the ones that had to be modified or overturned because of the evidence you saw, 00:12:00almost immediately, if I recall reading the literature?

FS: Well, most of the people in our group had not done much with contemporary eruption outcomes.

SS: Who had? Right?

FS: Yeah, and of those sorts. I think everybody had hiked in the Cascades, and many people had been to Hawaii and seen the product of recent lava flows. And the legacies of lava flows are quite conspicuous, even lava flows some thousands of years in the past, which are very slow to revegetate. So, on the one hand, our ecosystem group had had about a decade to learn how to work together and understand how forest and streams and geomorphic processes and land forms 00:13:00operate in green Cascadian forests. But, I think we were all totally shocked and stunned and awestruck when we first went in there.

SS: Do you remember what went through your mind the first time you went in a helicopter, right into the middle of it. And obviously, you were flying over, and do you remember what was said in the helicopter when you got off? Do you remember what you were thinking? I mean, just tell me about that moment, or those moments, those first few minutes.

FS: Well, it was just, it was extremely exciting. There were overcast skies. There were little bits of rain. We heard that there was a volcanic tremor and 00:14:00there was concern about further eruptive activity. This was on day ten after the eruption. We had four people in the helicopter. Barry Voight, who was a professor at Penn State and had been an instructor in a geology field course I'd taken as an undergraduate. Harry Glicken, who had been a field assistant to David Johnston, and had been relieved of duties at their station on what's now called Johnston's Ridge in honor of David Johnston, who was blown away by the eruption the next morning. And Harry was still suffering survivor's guilt. He'd gone out to do his laundry.

SS: So, he was there the day before?

FS: Yes, he left the evening of May 17.

SS: David was not supposed to be there. He was just the replacement guy?

FS: David was the U.S.G.S. geologist, the senior guy, and Harry had just 00:15:00completed his undergraduate degree. So, he departed to do his laundry, but also to meet with his prospective major advisor to go to grad school.

SS: I still remember reading the transcripts of Johnston's last words on his radio. Didn't he say something like, "This is it, this is it!"

FS: "Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!"

SS: Right.

FS: Vancouver, Washington, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, was the interagency headquarters for communications about the Mount St. Helens situation.

SS: And how long would he have had to react, considering the speed of the pyroclastic flow heading for him at what, if he was what, three, five miles, away from the crater?

FS: Yeah, five or six miles, the first ridge in front of the volcano. So, he --

SS: No chance?

FS: He just had a minute or two. And as far as I know, his truck, his camp, his body, have never been found.


SS: Some day, maybe.

FS: I expect it was blown over the ridge and into the next valley, the south Coldwater Valley, which has quite a bit of deposits in the bottom.

SS: Yeah.

FS: So, he's probably buried there. Anyway, it was, you know, mind-boggling. And we looked at some mind-boggling things. There were some geysers, muddy geysers at the south shore of Spirit Lake, where I think the giant landslide deposit had been left. It had triggered a 300-foot high water wave to the north when it splashed into Spirit Lake. That water wave flowed to the north, up the valleys that drained towards the volcano and into Spirit Lake. And then it sloshed back down up onto the lower part of the landslide deposit filling depressions there. 00:17:00All that would have occurred probably in the first couple of major processes in the first ten minutes or so of the eruption.

SS: What photographic or video evidence, if any, is there of any of these processes, and live, other than obviously the column [eruption] that we saw, you know, in the news later on, maybe an hour later. Was there anything that survived, or any of the people that were on the periphery of the red zone, did they, I mean, other than the ones that lived, obviously?

FS: Gary Rosenquist. There were several photo sequences. One of the most famous and most deeply analyzed from the science point-of-view, are those taken by Gary Rosenquist, well out, maybe ten or so miles northeast of the volcano. And so, he had a slightly, you know, the blast was to the north, the big landslides. And he was viewing it sort of from the east, so you could see the progression of the 00:18:00blast clouds and the landslide blocks. And then Barry Voight, the guy who was leading our group on that May 28 trip, did analyze them in such a way that he could calculate to the tenth of a second the time interval between successive images, and then compute the velocity of different parts of the blast cloud and of the landslide blocks, as they began to move over the first seconds.

SS: Now, was Jerry Franklin also in that helicopter?

FS: No.

SS: Oh, so it was just you, Glicken and Voight?

FS: And Voight.

SS: In the helicopter?

FS: And a fourth guy named Ray Wells.

SS: Okay.

FS: And we'd been grad students together at the U of O, and then, he was starting to work for U.S. Geological Survey. And Barry Voight is the brother of 00:19:00Jon Voight, the actor.

SS: Really?

FS: Yeah. Anyway, we went, and were trying to, we were looking at those muddy geysers. I think then the pyroclastic flows came down on the afternoon of May 18, flowed into these ponds, and then that's what triggered these steam eruptions. So that was occurring along the south shore, southwest shore of Spirit Lake.

SS: Was there fear? Did you guys have active fear, like, whoa, could this go again, or were you pretty sure that the major blast had occurred, or you didn't know?

FS: We didn't know. But we were just there, you know. To me, it was like being present at the birth of kids.

SS: The world? Oh, yeah, or of kids.

FS: Yeah, it's a very primal feeling. And we were looking at things like where the big landslide had gone. Some pieces of the big landslide had surfed up the 00:20:00west arm of Spirit Lake, and some had ridden over the thousand-foot high ridge that came to be called Johnston's Ridge. And so, we were looking at the deposits up there and Barry was interested in the question of, did the landslide or the blast get here first? And so, we were looking at, I remember looking at some of the trees that were included within the landslide deposit, and could see that the alectoroid lichens on the boles were still a light green as they are in a healthy green forest, so it looked like they had not been scorched before the landslide moved the trees into that position. And I remember talking with Barry and Harry about that.

SS: What was your methodology when you first went in there? What'd you do, you 00:21:00just did measurements of ash, temperatures, took photographs? I mean, what tools and measurements, what method did you do when you went in there? What was it?

FS: I had two roles, I felt. One was the science I tried to do, was to measure erosion rates in the new deposits in the blast zone. In places that had blown-down timber, in places that didn't have blown-down timber because they were pre-eruption clear-cuts, and then in some areas where the blown-down timber was going to be salvage-logged. So, both the plant people and some of us erosion people tried to put in these plots, adjacent paired-up plots with pre-eruption clear-cut, blown-down timber not removed, and blown-down timber removed. So, I put erosion pins, which were quarter-inch rebar, you know, maybe 18 inches long, 00:22:00and drove these pins in every so many meters across the slope at successive distances down-slope away from the drainage divided, the ridgeline, and then, measured the height of the pin. Each one had a numbered tag on it at successive times over several years. Then I measured the width and depth of small gullies cut into the new deposits wherever they occurred between successive pins. So, then we could measure the net erosion or deposition based on change in the height of the pins, you know, because if there's erosion, then more of the pin was exposed. If there was deposition, then less of it was exposed. And also, the 00:23:00gullies would get larger over time.

SS: And when was the first significant rainfall after the first big eruption?

FS: There were very light rains in the weeks after the eruption. And they were big enough to cut little rills, you know, channels only a couple millimeters wide. I mean, a couple centimeters wide and a centimeter or so deep. But then, in the first fall rains, then deeper gullies were cut. And so, it was very fun and interesting work, and there was a lot of variation depending on slope steepness and, also, the texture of the deposits. So, if you had a lot of -- we tended to have a couple centimeters of very fine sandy and silty material -- and then over gravel, gravel was harder to erode, in the places I worked. But then some companions from the University of Washington were working more north, and I was working more to the northeast, and they had less gravel and they had more 00:24:00erosion. But an interesting thing was that in some places, the new channels would cut down through the new deposits, which may be 30 to 50 centimeters thick in places, down to the old forest floor, and then, stopped cutting for several reasons. Then some places, we saw most of the revegetation coming up from the floors of the gullies, both plants liberated by, were able to sprout from root stocks, for example, and they were liberated from burial by this erosion. But also, seeds were blown across the surface and would get trapped in these gullies which weren't carrying significant amounts of water after the first few rains, because the fine deposits on the surface were removed and then the gravel was 00:25:00exposed, so the water wasn't running off very much anymore, it was infiltrating. And therefore, the gullies were not being actively excavated. So, actually, erosion benefited revegetation, which is counterintuitive. And so, that was an interesting and surprising discovery.

My other function was to help work at the interface of the geology community. And I had colleagues in U.S.G.S. from having worked for U.S.G.S. a year and two summers, and having other contacts with U.S.G.S. people. So, I could be an interface between the geologists and the ecologists. And a key lesson from St. Helens was you couldn't tell the best geology story that was possible unless you 00:26:00really paid attention to the ecology. And you couldn't tell the best ecology story unless you really had your geologic setting perspective down. So, for me, that was an incredible opportunity to work at the geo-eco interface, the geology-ecology interface, which my work had already come to focus on. You know, when I was working at the Andrews in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey, buddy Dick Janda, we both had forest geomorphology projects. And I did a class quite a few times on forest geomorphology, which really dealt with what are the geomorphology phenomenon in terms of land forms and physical processes 00:27:00that are important and distinctive to forest, forested landscapes, and the kinds of disturbances that occur in forests. So, the volcano dimension was a very interesting and cool component to add to this forest geomorphology perspective. Now, here, even in my retirement, I continue to work on that in new settings such as at Chaiten Volcano and Cordon Caulle Puyehue Volcano in southern Chile at a latitude comparable to the latitude that we work at here. Theirs is southern, and ours is northern hemisphere. But it's a great opportunity to take 00:28:00our hypotheses, lessons, and stories from St. Helens, and explore them in other situations where some of the geologic processes are similar, but the forests have some interesting and important differences.

SS: How did the second major eruption affect what you were doing in the first set of plots and measurements that you were doing? The eruption happened like three or four weeks later, I believe, right?

FS: So, the --

SS: It wasn't as catastrophic, but it was still significant.

FS: Right. The main eruption at St. Helens was May 18, and then, St. Helens grew small domes, and then blew them up multiple times, mainly over the course of the summer, which was sort of a dangerous situation. It also emitted more 00:29:00pyroclastic flows, and did emit some mud flows. Then when the domes blew up, that's when some of the pyroclastic flows occurred, but also it launched the dome rock up into the atmosphere and blew off to the northeast over some of the areas we were working in.

SS: What was the one that hit Portland with the ash? It was in June, correct?

FS: Yeah, I think June 12-13. There was one in July. Where it landed was a function of wind currents and winds, which could be blowing in different directions at different altitudes. So, you end up with some pretty complex ash clouds.

SS: How did this dramatic and immediate disturbance compare and contrast with 00:30:00other forms of disturbances that occur more frequently such as floods, wind storms, fires, etc.? And after this became part of your scientific life, how did it affect you when you go back to the Andrews or other, more "normal" landscapes and looking at disturbances, whether it be slower earth flows, landslides, fires, wind storms, etc.? It immediately affected you, I would think, but also in a longer-term way?

FS: Right. It just reinforced in my mind just the richness of the whole disturbance ecology field. You know, Mount St. Helens blew up in '80 and I'd 00:31:00been working on disturbances in the Andrews, and the main book on disturbance ecology in the U.S. didn't come out until the mid-'80s. So, disturbance ecology is a field which is beginning to take shape. As I mentioned, the multiple types of physical processes involved in that eruption really reinforced in my mind the importance of taking a very broad view. I mean, people tend to be fire people, or tend to be windthrow people, or bark beetle people. And here this, the St. Helens experience, really pushed us to think very broadly about many types of disturbances and the great variety of impacts they have on the system. And so, 00:32:00some of the general notions are one, if a disturbance is pretty intense and severe, it is likely to trigger a succession of physical processes as well as succession of biotic phenomena. Then this parallels of physical changes in the landscape and biological changes in the landscape, and their interactions, is an important way to be thinking about the system, and give good attention to the physical part. In some cases of severe disturbance, the system has to settle down physically before the biology can really kick in in spades. Like at St. Helens, the SCS, Soil Conservation Service, wanted to spend $12 million to spread grass seed over the blast zone for erosion control to protect 00:33:00Kelso-Longview downstream [Cowlitz/Toutle Rivers].

SS: On the Cowlitz, right?

FS: Yeah. But, you know, ecologists objected on several grounds, including they were going to use a non-native grass species. And there was a big push then to establish the National Volcanic Monument, which ultimately was established at approximately 110,000 acres. And interesting language within that legislation was to "allow natural processes to proceed substantially unimpeded." Wow, that's amazing language to have in an act of Congress. I think those people don't think that way very often.

SS: Well, this Congress would probably not pass such a law. (Laughs)


FS: Well, I think that the executive branch at that time wasn't disposed in that direction [Jimmy Carter's last term/Ronald Reagan's first term].

SS: True.

FS: But anyway, in the end, I think they spent $2 million and did spread a bunch of grass seed, but a lot of it washed off the slopes in the first rains.

SS: Right.

FS: That's a case of the physical system not being ready yet. So, that was one idea that's a parallel interaction between the physical system succession and the ecological succession. Another was the landscape being so modified, that there was a whole host of secondary disturbance processes that operated, really operated within the broad imprint of the primary disturbances to do a lot of 00:35:00fine detail of editing within that. And the nature of those secondary processes from one disturbance zone to another.

SS: Like big landslides and mud flows and continuing --?

FS: Shallow landslides from very steep slopes where the forest had been toppled and roots were ripped out of the soil.

SS: And the weight of the mud and when rain came down, it just (noise), yeah. FS: Yeah. But we should get back to the Andrews.

SS: No, we are. This [St. Helens] is all part of it, though. When you returned to the Andrews, and obviously, your intense period of study in St. Helens was about what, about five years, before it lessened? I mean, obviously, you're still involved, but what was the intense period of study for you?

FS: Yeah, the first four or five years, and that included several of us who were working on the management plan for the National Volcanic Monument. So, we'd go 00:36:00up and stay in Vancouver, Washington, at the headquarters at Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and work on that plan, the zoning and other issues related to protecting the ecological resources and learning opportunities consistent with the National Volcanic Monument Act. So, there were many different kinds of duties, including field tripping and stuff like that. My engagement decreased, and then I worked hard on the Year 25 book, and then also on the 2000, 2005 and 2010 "Science Pulses" up there. And in 2000, I started getting involved with 00:37:00taking, trying to take poets and other humanists out there.

SS: That's when you got to know Snyder up there. Correct?

FS: We went out there in 2000.

SS: Now, you were still doing your regular stuff down south [HJA], as 1980 was also year number one of the LTER. You're going back-and-forth. What do you remember about the interface, of not only the landscapes that what you saw there, here, back-and-forth, the idea of the LTER transitioning from what the IBP was, and even they called them the EERs at first, before it was an LTER? What do you remember about that whole interface, both logistically and conceptually, just as you were moving into year one of the LTER or Phase 1 of 00:38:00LTER 1?

FS: In that late '70s, 1980 period, my memory is a little fuzzy, I think because so much was going on. My wife and I at the time, we just had had our son born in '78 and were busy home-making, and I remember working on the proposal for LTER at that time. Dick Waring, who had teamed with Jerry Franklin to lead us during the IBP era, Dick was still engaged, and I remember him pushing us hard, that 00:39:00this was all to be about long-term experiments. I remember we were working on that proposal and we'd written in some long-term experiments, several of which did not come to fruition for one reason or another.

SS: Andrews long-term experiments, correct?

FS: Right, LTER long-term experiments. And of course, Mount St. Helens was just quite overwhelming. There was science to be done, but first of all, you just had to begin to rocket. I remember, I would try to get people to come help me do the erosion studies. And that was hard, dirty labor on steep slopes. Hot and exposed.

SS: No shade?


FS: But, most of the places we were going, we got to go in a helicopter. So, it's a trip to go on a helicopter, and it's especially a "trip" to fly over an amazing landscape like that. So, I always felt like when we'd go in there, we had to give people, especially volunteer labor, a little bit of time to get through some of the "ooh-ah's," as we called it. You had to go in there and say, "Ooh, ah, holy shit, look at this," before you could start rubbing your nose in the tephra, and get down to work. Also, there was a lot of communicating to be done. We ran field pulses in the summer of '80 and '81. Jerry had been running 00:41:00pulses. He'd pulse. A pulse was when he'd take his people, students, technicians, colleagues, out to a compelling landscape, the Hoh River in westside Olympic Peninsula, down to the giant Sequoias National Park area, other places, and have a ten-day to two-week immersion experience. Put in veg plots and some people would wander around and find other stories. We used that at Mount St. Helens because there was disgruntlement within the science community about the difficulty of gaining access. You needed special Forest Service permits. You needed to have radios that worked on Forest Service frequencies.

SS: How difficult was it to get the permission that first time? Because of 00:42:00danger, obviously. There were people concerned about that.

FS: Well, my impression is that the Forest Service was much more difficult, and through the Forest Service, it was more difficult to gain access than it was for the U.S.G.S. U.S.G.S. was used to volcanoes. The Forest Service was used to big forest fires, but not used to volcanoes. And the National Forest system was safety-focused and conservative, and unfamiliar with volcanoes. So, the first trip I went in on was with U.S.G.S. people. And so, sometimes we had to fly under the bureaucratic radar to go in.

SS: You snuck in, sort of?

FS: Sort of, right, yes. And it was so important to get there at the get-go, 00:43:00because some phenomena were very transient, and there were so many amazing things happening in so many different ways and so many places. Big blocks of glacier ice in the landslide deposits were melting out and forming these big depressions, or the pyroclastic flows had been cut by gullies, and then there were fumaroles in the walls of the pyroclastic flows. So, one gulley, we called "Sauna Gulley," because you'd walk through it and you felt like you were in a sauna. Then there'd be little halos of mosses and sprouting fireweed seeds around these fumaroles because it was in a desiccated landscape, except the fumaroles from the gulley walls were emitting steam and then the steam, the 00:44:00vapors would cool enough that there would be condensation in the surrounding areas, so there'd be these little biological hot spots, these little halos. So anyway, there were just all these amazing things and we just wanted to get out there and look at them and figure it out. So, a lot of people were putting in plots like crazy, but it was also very important to just get out there and wander around and see what was going on.

SS: Was the landscape dangerous? How did you avoid, just all the instability factors and it's all --

FS: Well, there were certainly dangers to be aware of. One of the fun days, most fun days I had, I forget what year it was. It might have been in '83 or '84. To get dropped off at the mouth of the crater and to spend the day circumambulating the dome.

SS: Which was hot?

FS: There had been a dome-growth eruption the previous week or two. And so, 00:45:00there were some house-sized boulders in there. And you walked towards them, I mean, you could feel the heat radiating from these huge boulders that had rolled off the dome onto the crater floor between the crater wall where boulders were bouncing down and the steaming dome. Today, that's all occupied by this giant glacier that has filled this sort of instantly-formed cirque-basin of the north-facing gaping caldera crater. And it's, of all the glaciers in the world, it's unique in having formed within the last thirty years, and practically all the other ones are receding.

SS: Does it have a name already?

FS: Yes, it does. And there was a competition for the name. I remember Gary 00:46:00Snyder put forward an Indian name. But in the end, I think it was just something very, I think U.S.G.S., and geographic place names board must have come up with it. It was something like Crater Glacier, I think, you know, a very prosaic name.

SS: Very descriptive, yes.

FS: So, anyway, it was dangerous and you had to be careful. But, it's our business to understand those instabilities, so hopefully we won't get killed. But people get killed, you know, like David Johnston had dodged a bullet in an Alaskan volcano when he was told to abandon his camp.

SS: Redoubt or Katmai, or one of those areas?

FS: I think it was Redoubt.


SS: Yeah.

FS: But the weather closed in and the helicopter couldn't get him, so he had to stay there longer than they thought it was safe, based on, I presume, listening to harmonic tremor and seismic signals. But then, they finally pulled him out. And then there was, I think there was a pyroclastic flow down that valley. Some eruption produced flowage deposit, and it destroyed the place where he'd been. But then, Mount St. Helens got him. Harry Glicken dodged the bullet at St. Helens, and then, he was killed at Unzen Volcano in Japan by a pyroclastic flow when he was accompanying the Crafts, a French couple that made movies of active eruptions.

SS: Wow. Now, when you returned to Andrews, you were up there, what, ten days the first trip?

FS: To Mount St. Helens?


SS: Yeah.

FS: Oh, no. I just went for one or two days, and our trip was on day ten after the eruption.

SS: You come back down, whatever the first time was that you went back out to the Andrews or another project in the western Cascades. What do you remember how you viewed what you were looking at? Was it an immediate difference, or could you feel the edges of your preconceptions that you'd had two weeks before or a month before changing immediately, or what do you recall about that?

FS: I don't really remember anything like that. But, the Cascades, both western and high Cascades, you know, it's all volcanic stuff. So, I had thought I might experience a major forest fire in an area very proximal to the Andrews within my 00:49:00professional lifetime. And I was, at 1980, I'd been involved with fire history research in the area based on counting trees rings on stumps, mostly by colleagues and grad students. But working with them about taking the geologic mapping perspective and trying to apply it for fire history maps. And so, I thought fire was the real common disturbance agent and I'd likely be able to catch one of those. Never would I have imagined something like St. Helens would have occurred within my professional lifetime residency of this region. And so, I just felt incredibly fortunate. Despite the tragic aspects [57 deaths], it was 00:50:00just an incredible learning experience and awe-inspiring.

SS: Did you think about all of the bodies that were probably buried in these landscapes that you saw? Did you ever think of that, or it was just like out of sight, out of mind? I mean, you knew it had happened, you knew about Johnston, obviously, because of his centrality in your discipline?

FS: Well, I was certainly aware of the tragic aspects. And it was so prominent in the media. And I remember thinking, I'd like to go to the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities and try to get money to bring in, sixteen or eighteen, or however many seats there'd be in one of the big helicopters, and take a group of artists and writers and fly them in, and have them interpret the 00:51:00landscape and communicate about the landscape. Because you could view it in terms of death and destruction, which was the common media approach. But there was also this incredible beauty and starkness, and all of these little, fascinating things going on and the legacies, the amazing survival that was occurring. And I remember having that thought and thinking of some candidate people I'd like to invite, and Gary Snyder was one of them. Well, it turned out that that worked out twenty years later, which was actually an important seed towards doing the long-term Ecological Reflections.

SS: The poets would have still been too scared to go in there. (Laughter)


FS: Oh, I don't know.

SS: Maybe?

FS: Actually, I kid my buddies like Charles Goodrich, poets are really important disturbance agents, especially in the eastern European style, major social activists. As he is, for example, but a lot of others are as well.

SS: Now, most people view the Earth as a relatively static thing, with the exception of dramatic major disturbances like volcanic eruptions which we've just mentioned, major floods, storms, etc. However, the earth does move in slower, less obvious ways. Much of your early work centered on measuring and analyzing slowly moving earth dynamics. Tell me about this work at the Andrews, in Oregon and elsewhere, and kind of integrate to where we just came from and kind of invert the discussion, if you will?

FS: All right. So I grew up in the east coast in an old landscape that's sort of 00:53:00worn and tired, and not very active. Although, geomorphically, it has some activity. And so, it's been really interesting and fun for me to work in the west, which is a much more active, the west is populated by much more active landscape components, including mountains. So, I think of the geo-eco interactions involving land forms as a physical stage on which ecosystems perform, and geomorphic processes, those processes that sculpt land forms over short or long periods of time, as also active participants in the landscape. So, out here in our active landscapes with our volcanoes, landslides, wind throw, 00:54:00and so forth, things change. Some things are very subtle. On steep slopes, we may have the soil just sort of creeping along at a millimeter a year, due to a variety of processes. And I've been very interested in earth flows, which are large, slow-moving landslides. They may cover a square mile of landscape. And where you have rocks with sufficient clay content and when they're wet enough, then they may move downslope at a rate of millimeters to quite a few meters per year, rafting along the roads and houses, in some cases, forest and other vegetation, moving it along on their surface. And so, we've been measuring 00:55:00movement of some of those.

SS: In the Andrews?

FS: In the Andrews and some other places. We can interpret the land forms and see the head scarps, they're called, where the land is pulled away, and then where there are bulbous toes pushing into streams or out across river terraces, for example, at the lower ends. They may completely disrupt stream networks and things like that on their surfaces, and the trees may be tipped. And we can interpret aspects of their movement history based on the records of trees that have been deformed or ripped up the middle or one thing or another.

SS: If you were going to do a sketch of the geology of the Andrews in relation to bedrock and the earthflow dynamic, how would you give me a sketch?


FS: The Andrews, which is 25 square miles, 64 square kilometers, 15,000 acres. The southeast corner, which has ridges about 5,000 feet along its southern border contain some U-shaped valleys and cirques carved by glaciers. At the western end of the landscape, which is the lower elevation part, and this is in certain types of volcanic rocks produced by mudflows and landslides and pyroclastic flows, those rocks tend to form very steep slopes and are prone to small debris slides that may have volumes of hundreds to a few thousand cubic 00:57:00meters, move rapidly down slopes and downstream channels. So, that's a very intricately dissected landscape with mean slope gradients of 34 to 35 degrees. But then, in the central part of the Andrews, there are areas underlain by weak rocks with sufficient clay content that they've been subjected to these slow-moving landslide processes and the earthflows. And so, the upper elevation half of the Andrews is in pretty-hard rocks, younger lava flows, for the most part.

SS: Basaltic-andesitic combination?

FS: Yeah.

SS: Okay.

FS: Then the lower elevation half of the landscape is underlain by these weaker rocks, prone to different styles of land-sliding. And of course, then the rivers 00:58:00are carrying the sediment and the detritus out.

SS: Now, the rock where you are is older than, for instance, just to the east where you have the larger volcanoes and the high crest of the Cascades. How did the more recent eruptions from those younger mountains and younger processes, how does that interface with what you see at the Andrews, in which there seems to be a break about where the McKenzie River comes through just to the east in terms of age and activity and types of rock? Correct?

FS: So, if you're standing on the eastern boundary of the Andrews on the ridge at about 5,000 feet, you look down on a southward flowing McKenzie River. The 00:59:00river flows to the south along a fault that separates the younger High Cascades to the east from the older western Cascades to the west. Standing on that ridge at 5,000 feet, you're standing on lava flows that are something like 3.5 million years old, and which had flowed to the west from sources that are no longer exposed. There had been faulting at that boundary with uplift beneath our feet standing on that ridge, relative to quite a bit of down-drop in the area that's now occupied by lava flows and stratovolcanoes like Three Sisters and Three-Fingered Jack and Jefferson and Washington that are immediately to the east of that point. Most of those structures visible from there are less than a 01:00:00couple million years old, and those landforms are for the most part, constructional volcanic landforms; broad shield volcanoes and those stratovolcanoes in coalescing lava flows. You have a broad platform at about 5,000 feet, but then another 5,000 feet of big volcano sitting up on top of it. So, those big peaks are around 10,000 feet.

SS: Now, a lot of the rocks that are in Andrews in the western Cascades emanated from more intrusive igneous processes, correct?

FS: No, they were extrusive.

SS: Oh, they were, okay.

FS: For the most part. There are intrusive bodies just to the west of the Andrews in the area of the Blue River Mining District. So, that must have been at the head of Mona Creek, which is immediately across from the Andrews.

SS: In terms of the base rock, the mineral composition, how that affects the 01:01:00detritus, the break-down of the soils, how does that affect the ecology of the Andrews specifically, maybe doing a little contrast with the younger Cascades just to the east in terms of the base material that would produce what it produces?

FS: Well, I think it's fair to say, although we haven't had people really investigate this, that the composition of the rock, its chemical composition, isn't creating a strong differentiation in the vegetation types. But the rock, what we call volcanoclastic rocks, fragmental rocks of the mud flows and 01:02:00pyroclastic flows and landslide origin that makes up the bedrock in the lower elevation half of the Andrews, that contains enough clay minerals that the resulting soils from those bedrock materials have sufficient clays of types that are prone to shrinking and swelling with drying and wetting. Hence, they are prone to landslide. So, through those mechanisms, then the type of rock influences the type of soil, which influences the types of soil-moving processes, and those soil movement processes can affect the vegetation through disturbance process mechanisms. Those clay minerals and those soils affect soil 01:03:00moisture conditions and other factors that influence the composition of the vegetation. Of course, the geologic underpinnings influence the resulting topography, and the resulting topography has a lot to say about the distribution of forest types, and especially forest age classes. You know, how wildfire, for example, moved across the landscape and determined where we have very old forest and where we have young forest as a result of the variation in fire regimes, and tendency for the winds to topple trees or blow out limbs and make them susceptible to invasion and rots. And so, when we look at the LIDAR images and 01:04:00see how the tallest trees in the Andrews are distributed across the landscape, we can see them sort of tucked down in the valleys and in places that are somewhat protected from the spread of fire and the passage of winds that might damage the trees.

SS: How would you characterize the fire history? A little take-off from what you just mentioned there. There hasn't been a major fire that's taken the whole landscape, but there have been fires around the periphery in historic times. Right?

FS: Well, we've done a lot of work on fire history, and the first way we looked at it had to do with counting tree rings on stumps. So, for a long time, the Forest Service has been making a lot of beautiful stumps. And you could count 01:05:00these very old trees. There are problems with the very old ones, you know, those that were 700 or 800 years old, they really are packing in the rings in those later centuries. And so, counting on the stump was not very good and subject to quite a bit of error, although recently, a Ph.D. student, Alan Tepley, did a wonderful job of dating, using high-resolution dating techniques, taking tree cores and bringing them back and preparing them and counting under the scope. But anyway, by looking at the distribution of age classes of Douglas-fir across the landscape, and most of our studies have extended beyond the Andrews proper, because big fires could be very extensive. To get a landscape picture, you need 01:06:00to look at a big area.

So, there's a tension there between intensive versus extensive sampling. Having high-resolution dating versus having a lot of lower resolution dating, but covering a lot of ground. We aren't making stumps any more of the native forest, which is the fire regime we're trying to reconstruct. But anyway, we've done stuff that's been surprising, and aspects of the surprises are still not understood, not explained. But we had quite a bit of fire 400-500 years ago and 100-200 years ago, and then, we have several centuries, the 1600s and 1700's, where there wasn't much fire. And then, at about 12 percent of our study sites, you can see some trees greater than 550. We refer to that as super-old growth, 01:07:00inasmuch as well into the 800's. So, there must be some climate signals in these fire history patterns. So, early Euro-people, homesteaders, travelers, settlers, may have influenced the fire history from the middle of the 19th century forward. Then we have sheep grazing in the late 19th century and early 20th century, along ridgelines and using meadows, and there may have been some fire.

SS: Started from that?

FS: Yeah. And for the Andrews, then, mostly of old growth on the long north-facing slope on the south side of the watershed, we had a fair amount of fire in the mid-19th century, probably multiple events, but scattered and 01:08:00variable. Then we had some fires around Carpenter Mountain, high on the ridge and off to the north, and then burned up out in the McKenzie Valley on the long hot south-facing slope, and slopped over into the Andrews.

SS: Now, most of these fires were in the pre-1910 era, when the Forest Service after the big blow-up of 1910, started putting everything out.

FS: Yeah.

SS: So, the fuel load dynamic automatically started building up across all Forest Service land. Most of these happened before then, the modern Forest Service fire management philosophy and practice. Correct?

FS: Yes. The scenario I just was depicting was for the pre-suppression period. 01:09:00There's a very interesting master's thesis by Connie Burke, 1979, I believe. It was in geography at OSU, and she did an archival study of all written records she could find that were relevant to interpreting the effects, which occurred from fire and human activities, that might have affected the time and space distributions of fire occurrence.

SS: Right.

FS: That included going and getting all of the fire suppression records from Willamette National Forest for her study area, which ran from the crest of the Cascades, a big square area, and the Andrews sits right in the middle of it, then off to the west a-ways, and then up to the south Santiam drainage, and then, down towards, what's now occupied by Cougar Reservoir. She looked at 01:10:00suppression records for, I think it was 1910-1977. Lots of fire. Lots of lightning fire, maybe an equal number of --

SS: Of human-caused?

FS: Human-caused of many different sorts. Escaped homesteader fire, escaped/fire, escaped/can fire, arson. You have to wonder about how good those interpretations [fire origin] are because lots of people are making them, and there'd be lots of reasons, political and other kinds of reasons, for --

SS: Legal?

FS: Misinterpreting.

SS: Right.

FS: So, when we say we have a suppression period, we have to be careful about that because, you know, detection and access, and staffing and tools to deal 01:11:00with fire, gradually and slowly --

SS: Built up.

FS: Built up over time. And granted we didn't have big fires in the Andrews. But it's been interesting in the last few decades, there have been quite a few 5,000-10,000-acre fires, and even larger, in the general neighborhood. So, if you look at the remote sensing work that Warren Cohen and colleagues have done, which uses satellite imagery since '72, you see a big swath of historic fires over the post-'72 period, from down in the Kalmiopsis, the Silver Fire and the Biscuit and so forth, wrapping up into the Cascades, up to Santiam Pass and the 01:12:00B & B Fire.

SS: That was the one that happened up there by Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Washington and all that area.

FS: Yeah. So, there's a very distinct swath with lots of fires, many of them in the 5,000-10,000 [acre range].

SS: The B & B was really big, though?

FS: Yeah, that was 50,000 or 60,000 [acres]. SS: Right.

FS: And then we had the Warner Creek and several others down at the south end of the Willamette. That raises very interesting issues as to how, if we have warming, more warming, how that will affect change in fire regimes. And will that apparent boundary, and I don't know what the climatic metrics are that would define that boundary relative to fire, if that were to move to the west and northwest, we might be in the hot seat.


SS: Okay, we're going to return to the LTER, the IBP/EER/LTER transition. I want you to take us into the actual LTER era. We've frittered around, or we've kind of nibbled around the edge, and looked at that. But I want you to take us into there. When we started this interview, kind of the transition from you describing the campus location and the land clearing and the reason for that. But let's kind of go full circle and come back and really go into the LTER dynamic. Jerry, Dick Waring, to you, any of the other foundational people. And let's say, let's go through LTER 1 and even go into LTER 2 and how the Andrews formed and became the Andrews in that early phase, but also the network and how this all played together.

FS: Okay. I wasn't real central at that time. I had, because of my discipline as 01:14:00a geologist, and then I'd been a post-doc. Then in the late-'70s, I came on with the PNW Station. So, some other people would be better sources, particularly Jerry, because he was our central leader. Dick Waring had been an important leader, teaming with Jerry in the IBP era. Then he went off to do more of his own thing, which involved a project called OTTER, which was the "Oregon Transect," where it ran from Cascade Head right out at the coast, the Coast Range across the Cascades, and over onto the east side. He was tapping in on 01:15:00NASA money to do remote sensing work and trying to make ecological, eco-physiological interpretations, and tie that in with climate measurements, and things of this nature. So, he budded off and did more his thing, whereas, Jerry was increasingly and conspicuously, the leader of the group. And Art McKee was very pivotal as the guy who was there for facilities development and the interactions with NSF. The key LTER leader at NSF was Tom Callahan, and Art had been lab partners with him at the University of Georgia as grad students.

SS: Was Callahan at Coweta at one time?


FS: I don't know what his Coweta connections were.

SS: Because of the Georgia location, obviously?

FS: I just don't know. It's a very good question I hadn't thought about before. He went to NSF, and he was a long-time, sort of a lifer at NSF, which I believe was quite an advantage to have somebody with a persistent tenure in the context of program officership that tended to be rotators, people would come in for a year or two and go back out, which made for a strange dynamic, I expect. I was never there on that basis. Jerry did go in for a couple years to learn the system, so that he could then tap it better and influence it better on down the road, which he certainly did, and he was very influential in the instigation and 01:17:00evolution of LTER and other pieces of business.

SS: But you as an observer, a person that, you were doing your St. Helens work, and Andrews was becoming a more stable, known institution. It had survived from the '60s and '70s into an actual ecological research site.

FS: Yeah.

SS: The IBP was short-lived, but something more real and long-lasting was coming on. You were witnessing this. And eventually, you would become the PI for the Andrews by the late '80s, correct?

FS: Yeah, '86-'87.

SS: So, I mean --

FS: I did have the things I worked on, in the latter part of IBP, '75-'76-'77, 01:18:00in the context of a lot of work on wood and streams. Then, the River Continuum Project began, which involved sites in Idaho, Michigan, southeastern Pennsylvania, as well as the Andrews, and Jim Sedell was the leader for the Andrews. That was '77-'78-'79, and I was good buddies with Jim and worked in the stream ecology scene. I had grown up and my parents still lived in Wilmington, north of Wilmington, Delaware, so I would go back and visit Robin Vannote, who was the overall lead and the guy who was the leader of the southeastern Pennsylvania site. And so, I'd go up and visit him and go wandering the rolling hills of the Brandywine country, which I loved. I'd go up there when I was in high school and college, and go to the Wyeth country and see exhibits of the 01:19:00Wyeth family's work and stuff like that. So, anyway, I was in early LTER.

I was working quite a bit with the stream people on an experiment we had. I certainly had the slang of the riparian rip-off study. We had been thinking a lot about forest-stream interactions and the role of forests in regulating the structure of the stream channel and its ability to retain particulate organic matter. The more big wood in the system, and little wood, the more retention of organic matter and more food there for the invertebrates that munched on that. So, the role of the forest in structuring the channel, and also, the role of the 01:20:00forest in regulating light inputs, water temperature, and especially light for primary production. Ken Cummins was the leader of the stream group in that time period, and a major theme for him was functional feeding groups. The invertebrate community was large and diverse, but you could group them by what they ate. Who were the leaf-shredders, and who were the scrapers who were scraping algae and diatoms off rocks, and who were the net-spinners, the collectors. The theme of the River Continuum Project is that you move from the headwaters under forest cover down to large rivers, and as the rivers got wider, the forest cover pulled back. The forest influence was diminished on both the 01:21:00structure and the light levels and the light increase, so there'd be this continuum of variation and the aquatic community composition, and the measures of ecosystem processing, P:R ratios and things like that. So, we had an experiment where we were going to try to remove the structure influence, but retain the shading, and then remove the shading, but retain the structure, and then have both. And we designed this experiment and were making observations. In the end, the experiment was to be implemented through a timber sale. But the timber sale was in a piece of ground that was then precluded from logging 01:22:00because of RARE II. The Roadless Area Review process said this was a large enough unroaded area that it wasn't to be logged.

SS: And that was is '84, connected to the Wilderness Act legislation, RARE I or RARE II, directly or indirectly?

FS: I believe so, but I don't know. I don't remember whether it was RARE I or RARE II, but anyway, that stopped that experiment. But meanwhile, I was doing all my other things, other disturbance stuff, and we did have a book that came out, I think, in '82, which was the synthesis volume for the International Biological Program era of the Coniferous Forest Biome. So, it includes the work 01:23:00of both the Seattle people and the Corvallis people. I think, I haven't thought about it until just now, but I think that was really pivotal in helping to cement my role in our ecosystem group. Because I was the lead author on two chapters, one that was synthetic about soil and sediment routing through the watersheds, both the organic and the inorganic components. So, it was at the real geophysical-ecological interface. And the other one was on forest-stream interactions. And so, it was synthetic about this notion of all the ways the forest affects the stream. I think that helped cement my role, my relevance to the ecosystem group. So, I was doing those kinds of things in that earliest LTER period.


SS: Was there a feeling of permanence or long-term, in terms of the institutional stability? I mean, the IBP did last, what 10-12 years, in terms of the sites here [U.S.], anyway. Was there a feeling at the beginning, it's another try at that, or was there a reason to believe that long-term really meant that long-term, it was going to really last?

FS: My perception, and I don't remember sitting down and having a serious over-a-brew conversation about it. But I have been thinking about it because I just had to write it for this essay for a book. But IBP, I came on in '72, some 01:25:00of my colleagues or post-docs, or Stan, a grad student, came on in maybe '71. We were just assembling in '72, and IBP was sort of winding down by '77. So, it wasn't that long. We did continue to do work together in different contexts, and Dick Waring and Jerry Franklin were vigorous in trying to find more stable positions for those of us that had been post-docs.

SS: But that's how you ended up with the Forest Service, though. Correct?

FS: Correct.

SS: Yes.

FS: Correct. Several guys got OSU appointments and some people like Jim Sedell went off and worked for Weyerhaeuser, and then, came back to Forest Service research. So, I felt pretty stable myself having my Forest Service scientist 01:26:00position, whether or not we would continue as a research group, certainly got a boost when LTER came on.

SS: So, that strengthened the PNW Station's mission, at the least the Corvallis share, right, of the station?

FS: The station was quite solid in Corvallis. I'm just trying to think through this. I had my deep roots in the Andrews, first as a post-doc, and then continued there as a PNW employee. Some of the other PNW people who worked there, and Jerry was PNW through and through, and Andrews through and through. There were some people in our watershed research unit like Dennis Harr and Dick 01:27:00Fredriksen, who had had some affiliations with IBP.

SS: And that was also funded by the NSF in part, right?


SS: Yeah.

FS: Yes.

SS: So, what differentiated the connections with the NSF with the IBP and LTER? Just stronger, more institutional fabric and strength, or how would you describe the difference?

FS: I would say, in the IBP, which for me was '72 to '77, and at that time, the Andrews had been primarily PNW turf, and here comes these young bucks through IBP through NSF funding doing things that were not being done by the Forest 01:28:00Service researchers, although interfacing. And as I think I said before, really appreciated and was impressed by the willingness of the PNW researchers and technicians to accept us fuzzy-faced guys into their territory, including experimental watersheds like No. 10, which is pretty tight quarters, but we all cooperated. In the LTER, my impression is that the place of the academics was stronger, more fully accepted. New studies were commencing at their initiative. And there were people such as myself who didn't distinguish my Forest 01:29:00Service-ness from my university-ness, and I looked like and functioned in some ways more like --

SS: A professor?

FS: -- an academic-type person. So anyway, I think that the inception of LTER solidified our community. We weren't looking at an end to the work. We had no idea how long it would last there. You know, we had seen IBP end. We knew ends, endings could occur. The tradition of NSF was two-year, individual investigator, curiosity-drive research grants.

SS: Right. They were ad hoc, here-there.

FS: Yeah, and that if you promoted the social and management relevance of the 01:30:00work, it was likely to get knocked down by the reviewers who were academics. And they could easily say, well, the Forest Service should fund that, or some action agency could fund that. That shouldn't be the purview of NSF funding. Through time, and especially at the insistence of the senator from Maryland, the tiny, little lady, Barbara Mikulski.

SS: Who is still there?

FS: She's still there. I was watching her during the shut-down, feisty and straight-talking as ever. Anyway, she pushed NSF hard to display the relevance of the work. So, now we have two evaluation criteria, intellectual merit and 01:31:00broader impacts, which plays in spades to the kinds of work we do. I think our whole history at the Andrews is such that our work, so much of our work, has found relevance, even the stuff that started out seemingly extremely basic and irrelevant, turned out to be pre-relevant and got hyper-relevant. Partly, that's a matter of the context in which we have lived.

SS: Now, speaking of the transition from an experimental forest to what it became, what kind of lag effect did you see in terms of cuts, timber sales, and things that would drag on into the '80s and even the '90s, I think, that were maybe questionable or questioned in the context of scientists and ecological 01:32:00science, who were seeing this laboratory essentially unfold as a laboratory, rather than a traditional experimental forest which it originally was for, really 20-25 years? FS: So, you're talking about the Andrews Forest property itself?

SS: Yes.

FS: Okay, my take, and if somebody wants to answer this rigorously, they should go and look at the records that do exist. But my take is that there was an agreement to establish the experimental forest between the station [PNW] and the region [6], and then the national forest [Willamette]. That included provisions that 20 million board-feet a year would come out, partly because Lookout Creek was to be cut early, and Upper Blue River was to be not cut for a while because 01:33:00of work that the Corps of Engineers was doing at the upper part of Upper Blue River Drainage on a snow hydrology study. Anyway, there was this agreement to log in the Andrews, and it took place, and it got the main backbone of our road network in, which we definitely used in spades, continuing to this day and into the future. And which our dependence on it became especially clear in the '96 flood, when the flood knocked out important pieces of it. So anyway, that logging did proceed. My impression is it was a little slow to get started in the late '40s and earliest '50s for some reasons that I don't fully understand, but 01:34:00I think Roy Silen and the challenges of putting in some big cuts which the whole system was new to, gave it a slow start. They proceeded in the '50s and '60s, and then in the fairly early '70s, the amount of logging was really trimmed back. I remember in the process of running the Andrews Forest, we were supposed to have a five-year timber management plan, and had that vetted in certain ways. And it was part, I believe, I don't know how much of it was a strictly Forest Service process, or if it was part of the arrangement with NSF to have, to meet their stipulations of continuing it as a major place of investment of NSF dollars. I think NSF imposed some restrictions that Jerry and Art McKee can 01:35:00address much better because they were in the thick of doing that, and I think the presence of Art McKee, a forest director [H.J. Andrews], the onsite presence, was a really-critical factor in that earliest LTER period.

SS: What was there physically in 1980, when this LTER started? What was the actual infrastructure? You had the roads, obviously, and you had -- ?

FS: We had gauging stations and trail stations.

SS: And trailers, right?

FS: Or --

SS: Or were you still outside of the boundaries at that time?

FS: I think they were mostly outside the boundaries.

SS: Because in the '80s, you started bringing in the trailers, right?

FS: Yeah.

SS: And they [trailers] were also at the campus area, or were they below that?

FS: When you say campus, what does that mean?

SS: Where, the flats area, the area there by Lookout Creek, the flats, in that 01:36:00area there in that little valley.

FS: I think it was --

SS: Is that where the trailers were?

FS: Yes.

SS: Okay.

FS: So, I remember a discussion when it was decided that we weren't going to just have a regular timber program. I don't remember the date. I do remember a discussion of, wow, how much, what's the value of the timber out there on the hoof, on the stump, the standing timber? And I remember, I don't know where it came from, but somebody said, "Well, it's probably half a billion dollars."

SS: You mean, things that would be left uncut if you changed the mission statement for this experiment?

FS: What is the value of the timber, standing timber, out there today?

SS: Right.

FS: And if we stop cutting, that's standing there and we might get some serious blow-back. I remember a discussion of that. A little bit of cutting did occur 01:37:00for experimental purposes. There was the Snowbrush Study, which was to be an LTER study that Phil Sollins was the lead scientist on. It was implemented with two clear-cuts with hot burns, and we expected Ceanothus velutinus [Snowbrush] to come in, and so, there could be a nitrogen, fixing nitrogen capital-related study. That study never really bore fruit, scientifically. Some follow-up work was done and it didn't come in heavy to Ceanothus as we'd expected, and as had occurred in some nearby cuts and burns.

SS: Now, that's up at the high area, correct?

FS: It's on the road getting close to the, not the road to Carpenter, but the road to Watersheds 6, 7 and 8. You know, another one was a study put in by Steve 01:38:00Radosevich and Dave Hibbs on the Mack Creek Road, where there were a couple cuts. It was part of a study that also included installations at Cascade Head Experimental Forest and one in the Olympic Peninsula in the Puget Sound lowlands, where there were different inter-plantings of Douglas-fir and red alder to look at their interactions in terms of relative growth and nitrogen fixation by red alder and things of this nature. And there was, there were a few cuts put in for logs to install Mark Harmon's log decomposition experiment. So, there was a little bit of that. There were also some thinning implantations as part of experiments.


SS: Of experimental studies, correct?

FS: Dave Perry's young stand study, for example, and, also, the young stand thinning and diversity study. So, there was some plantation thinning studies. There's now discussion of thinning in one or a couple older plantations for demonstration and some experimentation on ecological forestry. It is very interesting to think of this issue of further cutting. People we've interacted recently include the relatively new dean of the [OSU] College of Forestry, Thomas Maness. He's very concerned, or interested in having a "working forest landscape" initiative. What's a working forest? And there's debate and dispute about this. I also recollect this question, is the Andrews a "working forest" or 01:40:00not? And I remember when Bob Buckman, a Forest Service administrator, and early in his career when he was a silviculture researcher, going and interacting with Canadians when they wanted to set up a model forest system.

This leads to a very critical point about the history of the Andrews, and it's the potential that it could lead to and contribute to a paradigm shift. That is, does a model forest or experimental forest, model contemporary management, perhaps with a slight edge towards innovation? Or, is it a research outfit 01:41:00learning new stuff maybe with some manipulation, but not necessarily managing the whole property as a model of best management practices? We started out with the Andrews with two decades of sort of modeling best practices and some experimentation. If we had continued, we would now have very little of the Andrews in native forest. We would have logged two-thirds of it and we would have had blow-down in leave blocks, and we would have chased blow-down. And that would have just left scraps, which would have been diminished in any representation of interior forest habitat by microclimatic edge effects and 01:42:00other things like that. We would have spent the native forest learning resource. What we did have was we had a couple decades of that active management.

SS: The economic forestry paradigm.

FS: Right.

SS: Dominant?

FS: Right. And then we reverted to an ecosystem research-dominated system. When we were in the working forest mode, we were dependent on that management paradigm and the tweaking of it, but not too big a tweaking, but in a tweaking for efficiency. We were dependent on the management paradigm of the day. But in 1970-72 when we flipped over to IBP and a lot of NSF funding, independent, walled-off from the management paradigm of the day, we could establish enough of 01:43:00a track record in that world and in the Mount St. Helens world, and become a force. So, we were flowing information out into the contemporary management world, still operating in that timber-era management paradigm, we were offering the input that could tweak it and so forth. But we were independent of it, so that the work we did had the potential for being revolutionary and for the dramatic shift of that management paradigm. Without that, I doubt that would have ever happened. We wouldn't have been able to provide the talking points, 01:44:00the frames of old growth, Eric Forsman's spotted owl, a lot of the watershed work that became the fulcrums for that incredible paradigm shift. And then, if we hadn't done all that research, when it came time to draft the Northwest Forest Plan, which wasn't just about owls, and it wasn't just about old growth, the framing of the Northwest Forest Plan and the landscape thinking, the adaptive management thinking, all of these kinds of topics imbedded in Northwest Forest Plan as a synthesis and integration product, if we hadn't done all that wild and wooly work, in the context of the Andrews as an ecosystem research 01:45:00center and think-tank community, how would there have been a paradigm shift? How would the plan have been framed, formulated, blueprinted?

So, anyway, the start of IBP and then with the carrying on through the community continuity that LTER has provided, has been incredibly productive. And also, operating in the NSF-LTER world means that we are constantly on edge to innovate, to do that tough balance of the persistence of the long-term measurements and experiments, at the same time we're trying to be innovative and 01:46:00forward-looking. That's a real tension there. We're kept in check every three years, a six-year funding cycle of renewals and mid-term reviews. Also, if your information management is up-to-snuff, and that people can find your data online. The Forest Service doesn't have any review processes with those kinds of live- or-die teeth to produce, to make your data high-quality, documented, publicly-accessible, and published in high-profile outlets. All those things, our feet are held to the fire by NSF processes.

SS: In other words, the precepts of behaviorism may have become unpopular in how to raise your children, but they motivate scientists? (Laughs) Is that a good 01:47:00way of characterizing it, to produce?

FS: Yeah.

SS: Okay. Now, the culture. When did the LTER become a culture? I mean, obviously, there's people that were colleagues and friends, and going back '50s,'60s, '70s, and the IBP had a culture to it. But when did the LTER become a culture, and you could see this is a community and something is happening here? And you can localize if you want to.

FS: Well, I've been working on this essay, and my first line is, "What is LTER?" I look at the Bioscience issue from 2012 that has a special collection of papers about LTER, and so, that is the most current reflection, it seems to me, of what 01:48:00is LTER. And it's still dominated by long-term studies and saying that, oh, we're doing future scenarios, we have relevance to policy and management, but it's really about long-term studies. Because we have NSF dollars, and that's what NSF's about. But my point in the beginning of this essay is that the biggest accomplishment is that it is a culture. There is a community of a couple thousand people from grad students and some undergrads, research experience for undergrads, through senior scientists, and retirees, all stages, who are part of this culture of open, sharing of ideas, sharing of leadership roles, sharing of data. It becomes most clear to me how big an accomplishment this is when I 01:49:00interact in the context of ILTER, International LTER, and seeing how challenging it is for colleagues. And some of the places I know the most about are Japan, Tasmania and the rest of Australia, and Taiwan and China; the difficulties of establishing LTER-like systems in their other science-culture-societal funding kinds of contexts. So, you asked, when did we realize this culture? When did we realize that we have this culture? My feeling is we haven't realized it yet very much. And then there are aspects, I feel like we're still quite constrained by 01:50:00working off NSF funding, although we have Forest Service funding and we'd like to get NEH and NEA and other kinds of funding, so that the funding sphere sources are commensurate with the larger societal cultural enterprise that we have. And we can be stronger and more explicit about some of these dimensions that are outside the framing that NSF or the Forest Service might see as what is appropriate for us to do. But anyway, at the site level, it was very organic because you're living with one another. And if you can throw a frisbee and have pizza parties with your team-mates, families and stuff like that, then you get a sense of common ground. Though we don't do very much socially, we have had times when we've had social interactions. So, at the site level, there's been that 01:51:00sense for a long time. And a lot of it centers around the place and some of the activities that we do at a place. And then there is proposal writing. That really forces you to get in the sandbox together and play together, and not throw sand in each other's faces. And you have, it's a very interesting lens. You want to have a successful proposal. You're dependent on one another. Interdisciplinarity is a crux of success or failure.

SS: And everybody does have their own little interests at the same time, the tension there?

FS: Right. So, you're constantly balancing the long-term with the short-term, with a hot topic, with a boring, old continuity, with the diversity of focus lengths of all kinds, you know, disciplinary emphases. So, it's a constant 01:52:00challenge. So, then NSF forced us to begin to function as a network. And there was a lot of resistance from some quarters to do that. People said, "Hey, we competed as a site and we entered this group as a site. We're not funded. This is an unfunded mandate." So, there was a lot of struggle getting past that 20-25 years ago. And there are some individuals, including, very famous scientists, who were particularly resistant to that. And I have very little respect for that because NSF gets LTER funding in the context of Congress for the larger package.

SS: Which is the people?

FS: Yeah. And having a system that is geographically-dispersed across many congressional delegation districts and stuff like that, is a real advantage. So, 01:53:00NSF is up there competing with NASA or this outfit or that outfit for this space probe or landing on the moon or one thing another, and the NSF needs to have some larger packages, and LTER comes up. And so, we have a stake as a whole network to feed NSF story lines so they can compete on our behalf. So, I think our culture has come into sharpest focus for me in the context of the All-Scientists Meetings. And I don't know when the first one was, maybe 25 years ago, but now they're done a three-year cycle. And they are designed to cultivate 01:54:00network functionality, to cultivate not a branching hierarchical system where some eminent leader comes in and tells us what the vision, a Steve Jobs for Apple or something, comes in and tells us "how it's gonna be," what our culture is going to be, and what our themes are going to be, what our measures of success are going to be. But rather, it is cultivating the highly dispersed social network because most of the time we're there, we're working in small working groups of people from many other sites, who share a passion for a particular research theme.

SS: You're almost going counter to human nature, certainly capitalist culture, western culture, the I, the me, in individualism, in that culture, and even just 01:55:00the natural dynamics of, "My God, my career's got to survive, I need money, I need tenure, I need this, I need that." So, there's a certain countercultural, many countercultural aspects to that idea, although if you really take it to its logical conclusion, if you really go into that shared paradigm idea, you're actually mirroring what you're studying, ecology.

FS: Yeah.

SS: Maybe that sounds corny, but I'm making kind of a segue statement here as we continue this discussion.

FS: Oh, I agree completely. For example, and I'm totally out on the fringe, I've been trying to get my buddy, David Foster, Director of Harvard Forest and LTER PI there, since the get-go, to write about a New England and Northwest 01:56:00comparison, and to talk about the exercise of our science citizenship as a site program, and exercising our citizenship at the scale of our home bioregions through mechanisms such as Harvard Forest Group, which has led development of a conservation strategy for forests of New England, started for just Massachusetts and now runs through Maine, called "Wildlands and Woodlands." And it's a dominantly private ownership landscape.

SS: Which is, that's the East.

FS: Yeah, and working through conservation easements, but in a broader design context. In our case, we're working in a dominantly public land, federal public lands context. And through the mechanism of the Forest Wars and the Northwest Forest Plan, we have had an opportunity to distribute some of our science-rooted concepts across, 10 million hectares. And so, this is where we come into this 01:57:00big exercise of science citizenship and how our work plays very broadly. So, we should be able to model within our own group a full ecosystem that includes the arts and humanities and social sciences, and all that as we try to study the world we live in. We might sort of emphasize our bioregion as our study site, in these fully-coupled human natural system word view. So, it's almost 4:00, and I'm running out of steam, and I'd like to go ride my bike. And so, I'd like to 01:58:00continue this when, we can close off for a little bit.