Oral history transcripts from the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Program, 1996 to 2018

CREATOR: Frederick J. Swanson, Samuel Schmieding
ORIGINATOR: Samuel Schmieding
OTHER RESEARCHER: Max G. Geier, Michael P. Nelson
METHOD CONTACT: Samuel Schmieding
30 Sep 2019
22 Feb 2021
H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest (AND), Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER), attitudes and perceptions, public participation, history, historical value, forest ecosystems, experimental forests
The oral history collections are part of the Andrews Forest History Project undertaken in 2013 to locate, organize, inventory, and archive the program records for the purposes of supporting site and research administration, and also to support future history scholarship concerning program and site administration, education, science-management partnership activities, and other matters.
Experimental Design - SS009:

The oral histories are grouped as collections by project with the two main projects triggered in part by the 50th and 70th anniversaries of establishment of the Andrews Experimental Forest.These two oral interview projects were separated by about 20 years, which may be a periodization relevant to inter-generational changes in the Andrews Forest program and leadership, but there is no commitment to keeping that frequency.

  • Four separate collections of oral history interviews are provided with transcripts and biosketches of the interviewees available here. The collections are as follows:
  • 1) Oral history interviews were conducted by Max Geier in the context of his study of the history of the Andrews Forest community around the time of the 50th anniversary of the experimental forest (ca. 1996-1998), which was published as his book Necessary Work as a USFS PNW Station General Technical Report in 2007.
  • 2) Historian Sam Schmieding conducted oral history interviews (2013-2018) in the context of the Andrews Forest History Project, which were created in conjunction with the Andrews Forest 70 year anniversary.
  • 3) Schmieding conducted additional oral history interviews to discuss the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP).
  • 4) Several additional oral history interviews and one public lecture (Jerry Franklin) are also included in the collection because they provide personal recollections relevant to interpreting Andrews Forest history.
Field Methods - SS009:

The Max Geier set of oral histories of Andrews people made in 1996-1998 is now on line in the Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center's (SCARC) Voices collections here: This representation includes audio, transcripts, mug shots, and short biosketches of the participants.

The Geier interviews included both individuals and groups who worked together over years. Recordings were made on mini-cassette tapes and the quality of the equipment and its placement resulted in recordings of quite varied quality. In 2018 SCARC arranged for the mini-cassette audio records to be digitized and enhanced, but the quality remains varied. Transcripts were produced by undergraduate students of Max Geier at Western Oregon University and in some cases Geier edited them. In 2018 Fred Swanson and then Sam Schmieding edited the transcripts without checking them against the audio records, except in the case of the IBP Group interview. The quality of the audio of that interview is good, so Swanson edited the transcript with special attention to having correct identification of the speakers.The mini-cassettes from the 1996-98 interviews are stored with SCARC.

Processing Procedures - SS009:

Some considerations used in writing the biosketches and narrative outlines of the oral histories:

  • These interviews differ from ones concerning the entire career of an individual; these focus on their involvement with the Andrews Forest, so the biosketches represent that focus.
  • The biosketches were written by Fred Swanson, based on information in the interview and his personal knowledge from working at Andrews Forest since 1972.
  • Many interviewees in the Geier oral histories continued to be associated with the Andrews Forest, so the biosketch gives information on that history beyond the date of the interview.
  • In each biosketch reference is made to all interviews of that single interviewee – a few people were interviewed at two dates and some people were in both single and group interviews or in two group interviews in the Geier project.
  • The NW Forest Plan biosketches are longer than ones for Andrews. Only the four NWFP people had substantial involvement with the Andrews Forest.
  • Note – in the biosketches: D = Deceased as of 03/15/19

Max Geier undertook a set of oral histories to support preparation of the book Necessary Work : Discovering Old Forests, New Outlooks, and Community on the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, 1948-2000 (2007. U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. General Tech. Rept. PNW-GTR-687). At the time, he was a professor of western United States history at Western Oregon University, specializing in natural resource-based human communities. His dissertation studies at Washington State University concerned wheat farming communities on both sides of the US-Canada border. Geier approached study of the Andrews Forest as a history of the research and land management community associated with the Andrews, and the relation of that community with local communities, especially the town of Blue River. This study and its oral histories came at a crucial time in the history of the Andrews Forest – it was only a few years after the “Forest Wars” and its intense public debates about the future of Federal forests, in which people associated with the Andrews were deeply involved. Hence, memories were fresh, yet the period of interviews was separated by several years from these tumultuous times, so there had been time to reflect. This history project on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of establishment of the Andrews Forest was funded initially by the PNW Station, and further supported by the Andrews Forest Long-Term Ecological Research program and private funds.

Sam Schmieding completed a Ph.D. in history at Arizona State University in 2002 with a focus on environmental history and the American West, and a dissertation studying the historical geographies of the Colorado Plateau. Before that, he had been a journalist, photographer and tour guide in the Southwest. After graduating from ASU, he worked 2 years with the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, developing a historical archive of materials associated with water in Arizona’s pre-statehood era. He was then commissioned by the National Park Service to write a history of Canyonlands National Park, doing so under a cooperative agreement between the NPS and ASU where he also taught U.S. and world history. The book was completed in 2007. He began a project in July 2013 to professionally curate records of the Andrews Forest, and to digitize key documents from that collection. As the 70th anniversary of the forest approached, he was commissioned to do a new set of oral histories on the Andrews Forest, including several people interviewed by Geier 20 years earlier. Schmieding also digitized professional and personal records from H.J. Andrews-the-man that have been saved by his family, including condolence letters from many famous people to his widow on the occasion of his untimely death. He was also enlisted by PNW Station to conduct a set of 13 oral histories of key participants in the Northwest Forest Plan and related issues, with most of these connecting integrally with Andrews Forest history. This work was also supported by Andrews Forest LTER program and private funding.

The field locations represented in these records include the Andrews Forest itself, its many satellite research sites (hydrology-vegetation/most in Pacific Northwest), and partner research programs across the U.S. (e.g., LTER network) and the globe (e.g., in the International LTER network)
The primary geographic focus of the oral histories is the Andrews Experimental Forest LTER site but also references satellite research areas including Research Natural Areas, the forest vegetation plot network extending across the region, programmatically-related experimental watershed sites at Coyote Creek/South Umpqua Experimental Forest and Fox Creek / Bull Run Experimental Watersheds (East of Portland). Materials concerning the LTER network, NADP, and other research and monitoring programs have national applications, and the International LTER Network and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Network have global outreach.
Irregular sets of interviews
Ground condition