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John Moreau Oral History Interview

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John Moreau Oral History Interview


John Moreau was a field technician for many years stationed at the Andrews Forest with continuing responsibilities for climate and other environmental monitoring activities and periodic special projects, which regularly took him to many sites throughout the Forest and nearby research properties. Moreau begins the oral history by describing his current (as of 2014) continuing jobs servicing instruments and shipping out samples – and the many professors and grad students who rely on him for quality data, initial data screening, and timely delivery. The interviewer explains that this oral history differs from others in this collection by conducting it while traveling through the buildings and field locations as Moreau describes his work. But, first, Moreau describes growing up in Corvallis and nearby areas where he roamed with his pet red-tailed hawk, and he would bike out to forests near town. He recounts a special affinity for the owl biologists working at Andrews Forest in the early days and their keen awareness of the natural world. He describes his love for climbing Cascade peaks and fishing, clamming, and crabbing along the coast – ultimately from Baja to Southeast Alaska, and how duties like that annual cone survey for Jerry Franklin took him along the Cascades through Oregon and Washington.

Moreau had not heard of the Andrews Forest before he went to work there in 1974. Thus, began a long career tending instruments at many meteorological and stream gaging stations and other devices, which he describes in some detail, including many types of problems, such as tending paper charts with ink records during intense rain storms. The instrumentation and power sources evolved over time, so training was necessary, and snow conditions and freezing are episodic problems. The status of instruments can be observed remotely to check for problems. The conversation moves to the Watershed Lab in the headquarters building where Moreau shows and explains a wide variety of instruments, and then they move to the Central Met station. Moreau next describes clearing of the headquarters site and its development with junker trailers from various places, construction of roof structures to protect the trailers from crushing by wet snow, and Terry Cryer’s role in construction of the facilities, including the beautiful work on the fireplace in the Conference Room lounge. The walking tour of headquarters next encounters the bone yard, shop, and large machines, like snowcats and the backhoe, which get some attention.

The second part of the oral history moves to Watershed 1 where Moreau describes the emphasis former Forest Director Art McKee put on education, which led him to take classes in computing, welding, and other skills. Moreau goes on to give a detailed rundown on instruments and operations of Watershed 1, including facilities to study cold-air drainage on behalf of Barb Bond and Chris Thomas. One of his periodic jobs since 2006 has been to locate and apply herbicide to the invasive plant false brome which is invading the forest, displacing native understory species. The tour and explanations proceed to the gaging station on Lookout Creek, CS2 Met Station, Big Tree, Watershed 3, one of Mark Harmon’s 200-year log decomposition experiment plots, Central Met Station, and Vanilla Leaf Met Station. Along the way, he discusses tree climbing and the need to focus on the task right in front of you – and not look down and get vertigo. The subject of road maintenance gets addressed next, including brushing, maintenance of culverts, and dealing with floods and landslides. At the Vanilla Leaf Met Station he discusses the climate committee and decision making concerning new installations, changes in instruments, quality control practices, and other aspects of the whole environmental monitoring program.

Once the tour reaches a high point, Moreau reflects on changes in the Andrews Forest program, and he speaks positively about the expanding scope of the science and education programs. From that high point he identifies repeater stations for data transmission across most of the forest. He goes on to comment on differences between the university and Forest Service, but really likes most of the people. He greatly appreciates the value of long-term research, such as the annual cone counting and monitoring variations in snow pack, which can reveal climate change. He closes the interview reflecting on the similarity of feelings driving his boat on the open ocean and the snowcat over fresh snow.


John Moreau


H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Oral History Collection (OH 28)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


May 12, 2014


Samuel Schmieding


Born Digital Audio




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Samuel Schmieding


John Moreau


H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon

Original Format

Born Digital Audio



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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