Center for Columbia River History

Back to Table of Contents

J.W. "BUD" FORRESTER, JR.
Columbia River Dissenters Series
Tape 1, Side 1
3 June 1999

BF = Bud Forrester
CH = Clark Hansen

OHS Inv. #2720

J.W. ďBudĒ Forrester was born in 1914 and grew up in Cascade Locks. In 1930, at the age of sixteen, Forrester started college as a chemical engineering student, but quickly changed his mind and studied journalism at Oregon State University. Forrester worked for two years at The Oregonian as a sports reporter. In 1935, Forrester landed a job at the East Oregoninan. He was editor of the East Oregonian from 1951 to 1973 and the Daily Astorian from 1973 to 1988. Forrester's many years of newspaper editing and writing have given him a unique perspective on a variety of issues concerning the Columbia River Basin. He covered the construction and openings of the first dams on the Columbia and witnessed the subsequent diminished salmon runs. Mr. Forrester died on February 22, 2000.

CH: This is an interview with J. W. ďBudĒ Forrester, Jr. in downtown Portland, Oregon, at his apartment. The interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date if June 3, 1999, and this is tape 1, side 1. I thought we might begin by looking at how you and your family ended up living in Oregon and where they came from.

BF: My father was born and raised on a ranch at Eagle Creek out in Multnomah County, and as a youngster he became interested when surveyors were coming through there. He became interested in what they were doing, and he came to Portland and went to a business college. Heíd had a sixth grade education. And down the line he became a draftsman, and then taught himself algebra and geometry and trigonometry so that he became the registered civil engineer of the State of Oregon. When the Guggenheim copper people decided to build a railroad in Alaska to tap the huge copper deposits there, they recruited engineers in the United States. And my father went to Alaska as a construction engineer building the railroad which included building some towering bridges and fighting some terrible weather conditions, everything that goes with working at that frigid time of year. Among the people that he hired was my motherís father, and that brought her to Alaska where she met my father. And they fell in love and came out to Portland where he had relatives, and they got married, and then went back to Alaska. I was the first child in the family. I was born in 1914, and my mother came out to Portland to have me at St. Vincentís Hospital because there were no doctors or nurses in Alaska. And it was really pioneering up there in those early days. And then went back up there, and subsequently my sister and brother were born in Alaska.

CH: Where in Alaska were you living?

BF: On the Copper River at a little community named Chitina.

CH: And you lived there how long, how many years?

BF: Six years.

CH: And you had mentioned in our first conversation that youíre currently an Episcopalian. Were you Episcopalian when you were growing up as well?

BF: Yes, always. My mother was a very devote Episcopalian. We had an interesting experience a few years ago. My youngest brother, who is eight years younger than I am, and I went to Alaska to see where our parents had lived and where my brother and sister were born and go with the railroad and see the bridges and everything else. And we went to the Copper River Museum and in going through there, the sections we came upon a copy of the Copper River newspaper, the weekly newspaper published in those days. And here was an item saying that Susan Forrester was having Sunday bible classes at the Red Dog Saloon. She had arranged to have Sunday school classes in the saloon [laughs]. And she was inviting parents and their children to come.

CH: [Laughs] I guess that shows how little there was up there for people to...

BF: Yes. And then she very much admired one of the first church people who came to Alaska was an Episcopal bishop, and she admired him greatly.

CH: So when did you come back down then to Oregon?

BF: When I was six years old.

CH: Six. And is that the time then you moved to Cascade Locks?

BF: Yes.

CH: Why did your family come from Alaska and go directly to Cascade Locks?

BF: Because my dadís job in Alaska was finished, and he was looking for further employment in his specialty, and the OWR&N then, which later became the Union Pacific, had a lot of work to be done on the main line of the Pacific and of the railroad in Oregon. And he decided to become a contractor and hired crews in the Portland labor market and did a variety of jobs including building a tunnel at Mosier and some other things.

CH: Yes, I was just reading about those tunnels in Mosier today in the paper. They had an article about scenic spots that were a little out of the way to go to. So it was your father, then, that worked on those tunnels?

BF: Yes, he was the [words unintelligible].

CH: So you were then at Cascade Locks for primary school and you were there for how many years?

BF: Five years.

CH: And then from there?

BF: I skipped some grades. I began grade school in 1920 and finished in 1925. And then my father was employed by a man who had taken over an operation on the Olympic Peninsula, lives in quarters at Port Angeles, involving the moving of spruce logs and there was the railroad, and logging and operating the railroad. And we moved to Port Angeles. We were there until Thanksgiving of my senior year in high school when we moved to Marshfield which is now Coos Bay where my father was employed by the Coos Bay Lumber Company as the general manager. And he later became the president of the company. And I graduated from Marshfield High School in 1929 at the age of fifteen and just decided that I was too young to go to college. So I worked for a year in a machine shop before I went to college.

CH: So then what year did you finally go to college?

BF: In 1930

CH: 1930. And you were only sixteen at that point?

BF: Yes. My father determined that I was going to study chemical engineering. [tape turned off for a moment]

CH: So you said that your father determined that you would be a chemical engineer. How did he make this decision for you?

BF: He was quite active at the administrative level of the lumber business, and he saw the pulp and paper business coming on, and decided that had a great future and that I should get involved. So they sent me one summer to work on the pulp [word unintelligible], Everett, Washington, to prepare me for this. But those five hour labs and especially when it was nice and sunny outside [laughs], I just couldnít take any more of that. And along came a fellow classmate who asked me whether I had ever considered being a reporter. I said, ďNo.Ē And he said, ďWell, they need a sportswriter on The Barometer that was the college paper. ďWhy donít you check it out? Itís something you might like to do.Ē And I found that I just fell in love with it [laughs], and I got out of the chemical engineering and went into the school of education.

CH: [Laughs] Did you graduate from...

BF: No, I didnít graduate, no. In my third year I got a letter from L. H. Gregory, the legendary sports editor of The Oregonian saying that he had been reading my articles in The Barometer and would like to talk to me about going to work at The Oregonian. And we followed that up and found that there were no jobs at The Oregonian that paid. All the paid jobs were filled, but the managing editor then, Palmer Hoyt, told Greg that if he wanted to take me on, why the first opportunity that he had to pay another reporter, why they would pay me. So I worked for three or four months before I finally got on the payroll at twelve fifty a week. [laughs] That was the depths of the depression, of course, and it was hard going. But everything was relative. You could get a full-course dinner for thirty-five cents.

CH: So at that point, then, you had been going to Oregon State College?

BF: Yes.

CH: And then you moved to Portland, and when you first moved to Portland where did you live?

BF: I lived with my grandparents, my motherís mother and father lived out in Mt. Tabor. And this was extremely helpful, of course, because I wasnít being paid at The Oregonian, and they had a room for me. And I road the streetcar back and forth to The Oregonian to the house in Mt. Tabor daily.

CH: And you worked there for how long?

BF: I worked at The Oregonian for two years. I went on as began in sports and then went on general assignments, night police and other things. And Hoyt, the managing editor, called me in one day and he said, ďYouíre never going to learn to be a newspaper man working here. Youíve got to get on a smaller paper where theyíll let you do everything.Ē And he said, ďIf itís all right with you, Iíd like to call up Mr. Aldrich at the East Oregonian in Pendleton where I worked after I graduated from the University of Oregon, and see whether heís got an opening.Ē And he did have an opening, and he interviewed me, and I was off to Pendleton.

CH: And that would ave been what year, then?

BF Thirty-five.

CH: 1935. Yes.

BF: And summer of that year the bossís daughter came home from the University of Oregon, and we became deeply in love, and we subsequently got married in 1936.

CH: And there werenít any hazards in courting the bossís daughter?

BF: Well, he called me in one day, and said, ďIíve been checking around on whatís going on around here.Ē And he said, ďIíve got to confess that Iíve been checking up on you.Ē And he said, ďWhat youíre spending on long distance phone calls to my daughter, I think it would be cheaper for you to get married.Ē [laughs] So that opened the door.

CH: [laughs] At least you knew he had a good impression of you. When you were growing up, particularly when you were in Cascade Locks, what kind of activities were you involved in that would bring you down to the river and take you out into the woods? Did you do things there?

BF: As children we picked flowers and picked berries. That had kind of an up and down history. We would work all day picking huckleberries, and along would come a tourist and say, ďDo you want to sell those berries?Ē And weíd sell them for fifty cents maybe, when our intent all along had been to take them home to our mother [laughs]. So we spent a lot of time doing that. We were - you could throw a rock almost into the river. And we became very enchanted with the movement of the trains through Cascade Locks. And we would plant ourselves down there by the tracks near the river, and we became a fixture, and the trainmen would throw their lunches off to us [laughs].

CH: What about on the river itself? Were you fishing and...

BF: We did a little fishing, yes, as kids. But we preferred really to fish in the lakes up on the hill sites rather than in the Columbia..

CH: Where would you go?

BF: Weíd climb up to the lakes up back of Cascade Locks.

CH: Wahtum Lake? Up that far?

BF: No, not that far. No, no. And we used to go up there to go swimming also. Our mother and father told us not to swim in the Columbia.

CH: Why?

BF: And for good reason. At Cascade Locks the river was pretty wild. Two of my classmates lost their lives, drowned in the Columbia.

CH: Did you watch boats? I presume the locks were in operation then. Were you watching the boats go through the locks?

BF: Sure. Oh, yes, sure. And we had some very good friends whose parents were in charge of the movement, the commerce through the locks.

CH: In terms of the fishing in the river, could you see the salmon migrating up and down?

BF: Oh, yes, yes. There were so many of them. My mother, among other things, coached me I guess you could say if thatís the word, prepared me to enter the Hood River County Declamatory Contest for grade schoolers, and the declamatory contest was held in Hood River, and I won first place. That was a big event.

CH: I have to confess that I donít know what a declamatory....

BF: Thatís public speaking.

CH: Public speaking.

BF: Yes, yes. You memorized a speech and delivered it.

CH: Yes, I see. Do you remember what your speeches were, what they were about, their subjects?

BF: Oh, the one that won the contest was the Pride of Battery B. I canít tell you to this day what was in it now. But believe me I had it rehearsed letter perfect then. [laughs]

CH: [laughs] When you started working for The Oregonian and you had mentioned first that you were working on sports and then general assignments, did any of those early articles have anything to go with the Columbia or the Willamette?

BF: No, they didnít. No, no.

CH: When you went to the East Oregonian in Pendleton, what kinds of things did you write about there?

BF: Everything. Because of the depression there was a shortage of funds, and it was a small staff, and we worked long hours and covered everything. The city hall, the county courthouse, the school board, the agricultural news, of course, very important to produce the paper then, the Pendleton Round-Up , and more variety of things.

CH: What was the river like through that stretch by Pendleton? I know - just below Pendleton?

BF: Yes. The Umatilla was the principal, Umatilla port on the river then, and that was at Umatilla Rapids where McNary Dam was later built. That was the project that was - youíll note in the clipping I gave you that my father-in-law was pushing for McNary Dam for years before it was built.

CH: You had also mentioned that you knew Rufus Woods.

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: How did that come about?

BF: My father-in-law and Rufus Woods, two ardent Democrats and two editors had been closely acquainted for years. Thatís how I became with Rufus. Then after my wife and I were married in 1936, we heard that there was a weekly newspaper for sale in Wenatchee. And we decided that we should go over and check it out. We encountered Rufus Woods who was delighted to see us, and asked us over to see his newspaper. And we were so impressed by his energy that we decided that operating a weekly newspaper in his town would be a loser. [laughs] He took us out to see the construction of Grand Coulee that was going on then, and we like him very much. My, he was really something.

CH: How would you describe him?

BF: He just had - he was one of the most energetic people that Iíve ever known. When he launched the - well, he didnít launch it, but in the early days of the Wenatchee World he got subscribers to the paper by riding on horseback out in the countryside and stopping at the various farms and pleading with people to take the World. [laughs] To become subscribers. And that along with being the editor and everything else. I mean his energy was just absolutely amazing.

CH: Do you know much about his involvement to get Grand Coulee built?

BF: One of my favorite stories - this was a vision with him for many years before it was built. He saw the potential for irrigating the vast acreage on the upper Columbia if a dam could be built there. During the Roosevelt administration years he really went to work on that one. And he went to Washington, D.C. frequently, but he was not able to get an appointment with Harold Ickes, the Secretary of Interior. And so finally he decided that unless Ickes was some kind of a freak that he had to go to the toilet regularly, and he would find out what toilet it was that Ickes was going to. And he went there and planted himself [laughs] and introduced himself when Ickes came in. And Ickes invited him into his office, and thatís where they got things going.

CH: What was his pitch to Ickes?

MF: What this would do for the economy of the Northwest.

CH: So his main approach was that the economy would be enhanced by the Grand Coulee?

MF: Yes, yes. By irrigating all that land, yes, yes. That was his vision of the role for Grand Coulee. Nothing else but that, just irrigation was what he had in mind.

CH: Did they talk at all about flood control or navigation or other things like that?

MF: Not at Grand Coulee. No, no. Farther down the river, yes, but not at Grand Coulee. Rufus Woodsís whole vision was on irrigation.

CH: Yes, yes. And when the Grand Coulee was being built, there were a lot of obstacles to be overcome. Do you recall anything about that period?

MF: Oh, it was a mass construction project of course. And I remember when Rufus took us up to see it. I donít remember how many men he told us were being employed on the construction of the dam, but it was a huge, huge number. And this of course fit very much into Franklin Rooseveltís plans for - he was urging construction of dams elsewhere on other rivers around the country to [word unintelligible] out employment. But when Ickes took Grand Coulee to him, why the story is that he was almost immediately enamored when Ickes told him how many people it would employ building it, but he estimated it would require and what the benefits would be economically for irrigation. He put his arms around that one in a hurry.

CH: Yes. That was built in 1941 I believe? Maybe it was started earlier than that?

MF: I canít - Iíd have to check that out.

CH: Right, right.

MF: You can look that up.

CH: Okay. So during this period prior actually to the Grand Coulee the Columbia River was a fairly wild river, especially in earlier times when you were growing up in Cascade Locks. How did the Columbia get to be developed as it is. What kind of things happened over its history to make it such a developed river?

MF: I guess in the beginning the first dam on the river, of course, was Bonneville. And in the beginning that focus was on producing hydroelectric energy. And then that grew into a much larger dam which created Bonneville Dam, the Bonneville Power Administration. And the vision that cheap energy produced by hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River would attract industry, and almost immediately it attracted the aluminum industry which was the huge user of power. And this led to the construction of other dams.

CH: Did you see much of the commercial fishing that was going on the river?

MF: Oh, yes. In traveling back and forth to Portland, Pendleton to Portland, why, yes we saw the Indians at Celilo and then we saw white fisherman on many places on the river.

CH: Did they have any of the fish wheels still around when you were a child?

BF: Yes, they did. At Celilo, yes.

CH: They did? At Celilo.

BF: At The Dalles.

CH: What about the - didnít the Seufert Company...

BF: Yes, the Sueferts, they were the pioneers...

[End of Tape 1, Side 1]

Tape 1, Side 2
3 June 1999

BF: ...Dam, wiped out the fishery at The Dalles.

CH: Was there much fishing going on in the Cascade Locks area.

BF: Yes. Oh , yes.

CH: Was that Native American or commercial?

BF: Both. In fact the commercial fishing processing centered on the lower Columbia River. Those fishermen went up to Cascade Locks, fished that far up the river, many of them.

CH: Until the dam at The Dalles went in, I presume that was as far as the boats could go?

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: Did they have a port up there then by The Dalles?

BF: Oh, yes, yes.

CH: What was that like?

BF: Very active port. Of course The Dalles is a key role in the history of the river. Thatís where Lewis and Clark Expedition, was one of their major stopping places. And then all kinds of activity inland that generated products for transportation came to The Dalles and was put on barges there.

CH: So what kinds of things were they barging up to and down from The Dalles?

BF: Agricultural products primarily, grain and wool. The Umatilla County had a huge - not Umatilla County, Morrow County had a huge sheep herds.

CH: Then with all the barges going in and out of The Dalles what kind of a transportation network did they have to and from The Dalles on the land?

BF: It was by rail. Yes. And this was cited by my father-in-law and others who wanted to build additional dams on the river to provide slack water navigation from the inland area to the mouth of the Columbia River. And they talked very little about hydroelectric energy or flood control or anything else. Their whole focus was on moving grain down the river and other agricultural products.

CH: This was your father you said?

BF: My father-in-law.

CH: Your father-in-law. Yes. How far inland did he foresee the navigation going to at that point?

BF: Oh, up into the Snake River.

CH: So even before it was built he was looking at it possibly going up to Lewiston?

BF: Oh, yes, yes. In fact the Lewiston Tribune, here again the editor of that paper was a Democrat also.

CH: Was that an important factor that so many of the people in that part of Oregon and Washington and over to Lewiston were Democrats since it was a Democratic administration that was pushing for so many of these dams? Was that important?

BF: Oh, yes. Sure.

CH: When they started building the dams that led to the - especially after The Dalles dam, did they create a port then by Umatilla for the - how much time was there between The Dalles Dam and then the John Day Dam?

BF: Not very much. Not very much. But quite a little before McNary.

CH: There was? So did they...

BF: They had to - well, you could go to the Bonneville Power Administration and get these dates.

CH: Right.

BF: About the construction and the [word unintelligible] of the dams.

CH: When they created The Dalles Dam, at the time that they created it, did they put the navigational locks into it?

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: Was there any effort by The Dalles not to have the locks put in to be able to keep all the commerce that they had from...

BF: Oh, yes. The Seuferts (?) were very much opposed to dams on the river.

CH: And what was their reason?

BF: That it would be harmful to the fish.

CH: Ah, ha. So they were coming from a point of view of the fish, of being harmful to the fish?

BF: Yes, their whole concern was the fish. Yes, yes.

CH: And what did they think would happen if the dam was built? Were there ladders installed when they first built The Dalles Dam?

BF: I think I told you earlier. Maybe I may not have, the editor of our Astoria newspaper, Merle Chessman - this goes back to the nineteen thirties - discovered that there were no plans for fish passage in Bonneville Dam. And because of the importance of the commercial fishing industry in Astoria, he immediately tied into that one, and put so much heat on through the Oregon congressional delegation and the Washington delegation also that the Roosevelt administration corrected that and put the fish passage into Bonneville.

CH: How did the administration defend its original position not to have fish ladders?

BF: They didnít even try to. The Corps of Engineers who was building the dam didnít give a damn about fish, but they would not confess that they thought the fish were unimportant, that the fishery resources are important. The Corps of Engineersí history is not without some blemishes. [laughs] And in The Dalles Dam why of course fish passage and barge passage just became a foregone conclusion.

CH: But that was about twenty years later then.

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: I notice that you had an article in the paper when you were up at the East Oregonian about Celilo Falls as you were anticipating the opening of the dam there. Did you actually see the opening of the dam at The Dalles?

BF: Yes, I did.

CH: What was that occasion like?

BF: It was not the massive celebration that I thought it should be [laughs].

CH: Really ? Why not? It seemed like there...

BF: I donít know why not.

CH: Did anybody attend from the administration, the Eisenhower administration?

BF: Yes, yes, they did. And one of the things that was hard for some of us to swallow was that President Eisenhower at the dedication said that of course private industry could have done all of this just as well as the federal government. And private industry never showed any interest whatsoever in building dams on the Columbia River [laughs].

CH: At that point, up to that point.

BF: No, no. They didnít at all.

CH: But then after that they did, didnít they?

BF: Yes, later. But then of course most of the key dams were built by time they decided it would be a good idea.

CH: I had read in one of your articles that Eisenhower had said at the McNary Dam that even though - I think that was in 1954 - that even though that was a wonderful achievement that then from that point on it should be local interests that build the dams from there. How did you feel about that when he said that?

BF: I didnít argue with it. At about that time Pacific Power & Light Company, it was then led by the legendary Glenn Jackson, was proposing to build a high dam at Mountain Sheep on the Hells Canyon, and this appealed very much to me. And I and a large group of newspaper men made a trip up there led by Glenn Jackson. And we went up the Snake and stayed overnight in Lewiston and went up there on a boat to Hells Canyon, and then went on across to Wyoming where PP&L had some big steam plants.

CH: Those in Wyoming were coal, werenít they?

BF: Coal, yes, yes. Hugh deposits of coal they were tapping.

CH: On that trip that you made with Glenn Jackson, what was the principal argument made in favor of the High Mountain Sheep Dam?

BF: That it would be a further generator of power, and navigation was not a factor in the Hells Canyon. And irrigation wasnít either.

CH: And why is that?

BF: Thatís just not - agriculture is never - that part of Idaho doesnít lend itself to...

CH: What about fish ladders?

BF: This was - at the time that support was building for private construction of the dam at High Mountain Sheep by Pacific Power and Light Company, Idaho Power Company which was very, very - well, the word around was that the Idaho Power Company controlled the Idaho legislature. And they persuaded the legislature to decide that if any dams were built in the Hells Canyon area of the Snake that it would be by Idaho Power Company. And that took that over. And Idaho Power Company almost immediately, although all hell broke loose, announced that there would be no fish passage built into the dams.

CH: Was that a pretty controversial thing at the time?

BF: Oh my, oh my, yes.

CH: Approximately what year was that?

BF: It was very important politically. It was the key issue that brought about the election of Dick Neuberger to the United States Senate and Al Ullman to the U.S. House of Representatives. They both - they were either federal construction of the high dam with fish passage or private construction by somebody who would meet the same requirements.

CH: Was that Idaho Power that built the dam then or was it federal...

BF: No, it was Idaho Power that built the dam without any fish passage. I remember some people who were in favor of Idaho Power building there instead of the federal government were appalled when they found there was no fish passage and just couldnít believe that Idaho Power Company got away with it.

CH: Were there plenty of fish going through that area at the time?

BF: Oh my, yes.

CH: And was that the first of the upper Snake River dams?

BF: Yes. And they built three dams in that way.

CH: Were there any Native American treaty rights in that area regarding the fish?

BF: I canít tell you much about that. I donít know. I donít know much about Idahoís history.

CH: You had mentioned Dick Neuberger and Al Ullman, were you saying that part of the reason that they came to be elected was their concern over this issue?

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: How did the people in east Oregon feel about the construction of those dams?

BF: Oh, they felt that they were very important to do them properly. And it helped Dick Neuberger immensely in eastern Oregon to beat Guy Cordon who was the incumbent.

CH: Who were you supporting?

BF: Neuberger and Ullman. Neuberger and I were close friends going back to our days in college when I was at Corvallis and he was at Eugene. We were both writing editorials for our university newspapers taking jabs at each other. [laughs]

CH: Oh, is that right? And later on then he became a journalist as well?

BF: Oh yes. He was a prolific writer. Oh my, yes.

CH: So do you happen to know when he started writing about Hells Canyon area? Was it before he was elected?

BF: Oh yes, before he was elected. He was the chief Northwest correspondent for the New York Times and was writing a great amount on that subject of the development of the resources of the rivers of the Northwest and the Columbia.

CH: What happened to the Pendleton area after the dams along that section of the river had been completed? Did it change the town at all?

BF: Not especially, no. But it had an impact on Hermiston which was down near the river, closer to the river than Pendleton.

CH: And then the next dams above Pendleton were where?

BF: On the Snake.

CH: On the Snake, yes.

BF: There was no other federal dams on the Columbia.

CH: They were built then later after the McNary dams. And what was the purpose of those dams?

BF: Hydro power and navigation to assist with the movement of river traffic to Lewiston.

CH: Was there a significant amount of traffic that would be going to Lewiston?

BF: Yes. The agricultural products coming by rail to Lewiston and then being put on barges to come down the river.

CH: I had heard that the - when I was over in Idaho last year - that the seaport there was never really a commercially successful operation, and that actually it was losing money.

BF: Yes, thatís right. For reasons that you would have to examine, it never, never achieved what it should have as a port.

CH: During the time that the High Mountain Sheep Dam was being built didnít Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas halt the construction of that for a while?

BF: Yes, he did for a time. Yes. Because of the fish passage issue. But the Idaho legislature at the urging of Idaho Power Company overcame that.

CH: How did they do that, do you know?

BF: Just told the federal government to get the hell out of there. [laughs].

CH: Did you know Douglas at all?

BF: Oh yes. I knew him.

CH: What was your impression of Justice Douglas?

BF: Oh, should I say this? I didnít look upon him as an exceptional jurist. He used to regularly come to eastern Oregon during the court recesses and get drunk. [laughs]

CH: And he actually lived - didnít he own property just north of The Dalles?

BF: Yes and owned property in Wallowa County.

CH: Yes, yes. Then after those dams were all put into place, was the commercial shipping of products in and out through the Umatilla port affected at all perhaps by either more products coming in through that area or less by having the seaport further inland over at Lewiston?

BF: The one significant development on the river was launched by a couple of men from Idaho, one of them the former county agent who decided that there was a potential for growing potatoes on the Columbia River on land that had been traditionally thought of as worthless. They checked out the composition of the soil and decided that [word unintelligible] had an immense potential for growing potatoes. And they began in a small way, and their success attracted - oh, whatís the Idaho guy, the big potato grower...

CH: Oh, yes. Right.

BF: Weíll come to it. Weíll get it. And now whatever his name is, his plants in northern Umatilla and southern - in southern Umatilla and northern Morrow County manufacture all of the French fried potatoes for McDonaldís.

CH: Simplot.

BF:: Simplot. Simplot, yes. Simplot has some huge plants down in that area, and there are some others that are operated by other companies also.

CH: Did you happen to know him at all?

BF: No, no. I had never met him. No.

CH: You were talking a few minute ago about the opening of The Dalles Dam and that it wasnít as big an occasion as people might thought it should have been. Did you witness the closing of the gates and the rising of the water and all that took place there?

BF: No, I didnít. No. Probably some of this is explained by the big celebration of the opening of Bonneville Dam. That was the big baby, and that paved the way for everything of course that followed. But there was not the celebrations at The Dalles or John Day or McNary that there was as Bonneville.

CH: Were you at the opening at Bonneville?

BF: No, I was not. No.

CH: Were there actually Indians living there at The Dalles Dam prior to its being built?

BF: Oh yes, my yes. It was a gathering place for several tribes, and they - you could - driving down the highway, the Indians would hang their fish up to let them dry. And youíd see huge lines of fish drying. And the Indian community in The Dalles area was a very large community, many people.

CH: What happened after the dam opened then? What happened to that community?

BF: They continued to live there but not in the numbers that had preceded it.

CH: Where did they live? I presume that their village at the falls was flooded at that point and they had to live somewhere else.

BF: Yes. They lived beside the river, continued to.

CH: What happened to their fishing rights?

BF: They continued to fish. Yes.

CH: And did they continue to harvest in the way that you had talked about a minute ago, catching them, drying them by the road and...

BF: No, no. Not to the extent they had before. Oh my, no.

CH: Why was that?

BF: There just werenít as many fish. Yes.

CH: Even though it had ladders.

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: Then I believe that - I was trying to remember some of the articles that you had written concerning opening of the dams. I think that in one article in 1956 you had mentioned that the tribes had agreed to relinquish the fishing rights and accept payments from the government? Do you know how that was arranged?

BF: By the congressional delegations of Oregon and Washington.

CH: Yes. I see, I see. And then shortly after that the John Day Dam was opened in 1956 and that created a huge reservoir behind it, didnít it?

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: What was your impression of that dam?

BF: Oh, I thought it performed an essential function in the overall use of the riverís resources to store water to the extent that the John Day did store it.

CH: Was there significant flooding that happened in the eastern Oregon-Washington area that the dams would help control?

BF: No, no. The flooding was farther down the river. Of course you know the history of the flooding of Vanport and...

CH: Yes. That was in 1948, wasnít it?

BF: Yes.

CH: So you were at the...

BF; But there were no problems. The problems was flooding in earlier years in eastern Oregon were on tributaries of the Columbia River. Pendleton was submerged in the [word unintelligible] flood in the early nineteen hundreds of the Umatilla River. And other rivers, the Deschutes had some big flooding problems, and others, tributaries.

CH: You were at the paper there at Pendleton until what year?

BF: I went there in fifty-one and was there until seventy-two. And then I went to Astoria.

CH: So how would you characterize the changes that took place during that time, the time that you were living in Pendleton? How would you characterize the development and the changes that took place?

BF: Agriculture has been the most significant factor in economic growth in that part of the country almost forever. And the Oregon State University played the key role in developing important varieties of wheat that were marketable the world wide. The Oregon Wheat Growers League played a very important role. Somebody suggested that the farmers consider trying to develop a market for their wheat in Asia. Iíve forgotten the name of the man now who said, ďLetís go to the School of Home Economics at Oregon State College and see if they would be willing to send some of their people to China and try to convince the Chinese women that their children would be bigger and stronger if they had wheat in their diet.Ē They got the Oregon State University to go along with that one, and the result was the opening up of the markets to wheat in all the Asian countries. While nothing has occurred in the wheat industry that has ever approximated the importance of that. And that made a great difference throughout the area which produced grain. And I spoke of the coming....

[End of tape 1, side 2]

Tape 2, Side 1
3 June 1999

CH: This is an interview with J. W. ďBudĒ Forrester at his apartment in downtown Portland, Oregon. The interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date is June 3, 1999, and this is tape two, side one. Were there many debates in the region about how the river should be developed early on, how many dams should be built or how much attention payed to agriculture versus other needs of the river? Were there forums in Pendleton or elsewhere? Did the congressional representatives come over there and talk about these things?

BF: Oh yes. The two people I spoke of earlier, Neuberger and Ullman, whenever they came to the area would talk about the importance of water to agriculture and not hydroelectric energy or other things, but primarily to agriculture. That was the important aspect of it.

CH: Were there - was Pendleton growing a lot during this time, or was it....

BF: Oh, Pendletonís growth has always been slow.

CH: Even with all the agriculture that was going on and....

BF: Yes, yes. And now the growth in that area is at Hermiston and at Boardman in northern Morrow County.

CH: And what accounts for that growth?

BF: Proximities of the river.

CH: And is it agricultural?

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: When was there any concern, the first concern about the number of fish coming up the river and how to deal with that issue? When did people first start talking about that?

BF: It became - I think that in an earlier interview I spoke of an immense fish processing industry at the mouth of the river at Astoria and across the river in the state of Washington. As that dwindled there was concern among people who were associated with commercial fishing of course, as you would expect it. But it came on slowly. It came on gradually. An unforgettable experience I had, I had not been in Astoria very long. One day I got a phone call from John McGowen who was the general manager of Bumble Bee and said that he had something he wanted to talk to me about. So I went down, and he said, ďNow Iíll just lay it out to you cold turkey. I canít tell you how youíre going to handle this,Ē but he said that Bumble Bee is shutting down. It will not longer operate in Astoria. And this was a very large payroll. And one of the most difficult tasks that Iíve had in my many years as a journalist was how to drop that on the residents of the lower Columbia. Finally just had to lay it out to them cold turkey. [laughs]

CH: This is in about what year?

BF: In the early seventies.

CH: You had gone from the East Oregonian to the Daily Astorian. And what year was that?

BF: Seventy-two.

CH: Seventy-two. So it was then shortly after you were there.

BF: Yes, soon after I was there.

CH: What caused you to move from Pendleton to take over the paper...

BF: My older son, Mike, was the editor of the Astoria paper, and his infant son developed a serious respiratory problem, and the doctor said they had to get him to a high, dry climate. And the obvious move was for him to come to Pendleton and me to go to Astoria. So thatís how it came about. My wife and I had never anticipated that we would ever live in Astoria [laughs].

CH: Was it a difficult move for you?

BF: Oh, yes. There is absolutely no similarity between Pendleton and Astoria. Absolutely none. The economy, the weather, the composition of the population, the westerners up in eastern Oregon and the Scandinavians in Astoria. There is just absolutely no similarity whatsoever. And that took some very difficult adjusting for the editor of the Astoria newspaper [laughs].

CH: Did your perception of the river change moving to Astoria?

BF: Oh, of course. Yes, yes.

CH: In what way?

BF: In that I perceived the importance of what remained of the fishery resource on the river and what could be done about it. The economy of the lower Columbia for as long as you can trace it has been fishing and logging and lumbering.

CH: So at that point then you became more concerned about the commercial fisheries and...

BF: Yes. And more concerned about what we were going to do about the economy, the overall economy, to take its place. To take the place of the dwindling commercial fishing activity.

CH: So when McGowen came to you and told you this, how did you plan - in what way did you plan on letting people know? Was it just going to be put in the paper, or were you going to talk to people, leaders first or...

BF: No, I was just going to tell them about what his decision was and why it was being made.

CH: Why was it being made?

BF: It was an economic thing entirely.

CH: Yes. And how did the people react then?

BF: Scandinavians are very stoic, extremely so, and many of them said to me, ďWell, what the hell. We all know what the dams have done to us, and youíre just one more. Weíll survive.Ē

CH: Did they have an idea as to how they would survive?

BF: I think there is one aspect of that you should know, and one is that for many years the highest rate of personal savings in banks in the State of Oregon were in Clatsop County. The Scandinavians. And in the depression years the Scandinavians buried their money in the backyard. As they saw the collapse of the banks coming, why they put their money in cans and buried them in the backyard. Very frugal.

CH: The Bumble Bee plant then eventually burned down I think in 1993 or was it before that?

BF: I donít recall just when it was. Yes, yes.

CH: What did they do when it closed? How did they try to address the economic problem?

BF: They were already doing a good bit of it, but many of the Scandinavian commercial fishermen turned to Alaska and went up there to go fishing.

CH: Did they do any fishing on the Columbia then?

BF: Some, but - and of course it also affected sport fishing.

CH: Was sports fishing an important part of Astoriaís economy?

BF: Oh, yes, yes.

CH: Thereís been a lot of conflict between sports fishing and the commercial fishers. Did you see that going on when you were down there?

BF: Oh, yes, yes. And they had to establish times when sports fishermen could go on the river. They wanted to relieve some of the tension between the commercial and the sportsmen.

CH: What was your feeling about the drift netting and then after that gill netting?

BF: Of course before the dams were built why gill netting was the way to go. Thatís the way the commercial fishermen harvested the fish with gill netting.

CH: And was there much conflict between people over whether there should be gill netting or not?

BF: Oh, yes, yes. Not in the Astoria community. Whatever the commercial fishermen wanted to do, why that was it. But some outsiders who wanted to protest that the gill netting werenít being heard.

CH: What about the people in Astoria that were part of the sports fishing community. Did they...

BF: The sports fishing - no, there was no [words unintelligible].

CH: In 1994...

BF: Most of the sports fishermen who came down to the river then, and still do, were from elsewhere. They are not from the Astoria community. They came from eastern Oregon and eastern Washington. They were not local residents.

CH: In 1994 they banned all commercial and sports fishing for the salmon. Did that have much of an impact on Astoria and the lower Columbia? The closing of the salmon fishing there?

BF: Some, but I had left by then and I didnít see up close what was going on.

CH: So after you were down in Astoria, what kinds of articles did you write about the effect of dams on the river?

BF: It was too late then. They were in place [laughs]. But I became interested, quite interested in economic development on the lower Columbia to take the place of commercial fishing and of logging and lumbering. And I was the first chairman of the Clatsop County Economic Development Committee which had representatives of all education, fishing, agriculture, land-use planning, everything that you could think of that had to do with the economy. And I volunteered to take that on. And it was significant in that the representatives of all the different segments of life on the lower Columbia became involved in the economic development committees work.

CH: So that commission was operating during what years then? When did that begin and ...

BF: Oh, in the seventies, and it still operates. One of the things that I became involved in, and I donít know if I spoke to you about this or not, about the venture of Burlington Northern with the exporting of coal.

CH: We talked a little bit about that in our first meeting.

BF: Yes, yes. And the Economic Development Committee and I as chairman of it were very much involved in that.

CH: So how did that plan evolve? How was it conceived?

BF: It was conceived when the chairman of Burlington Northern let it be known that they would like to export their coal and would like to consider the possibility of doing it through a large coal yard and exporting the [word unintelligible] at Astoria. And he and I worked together very closely, and I went to the legislature and persuaded the Ways and Means Committee to purchase some land at Tongue Point for a coal yard.

CH: And what happened then after that? When was the purchase of the land at Tongue Point?

BF: Iíd have to look that up. But what happened was that the suppliers of coal to the Asian countries decided to resume supplying it after totally shutting it down, and that put Burlington Northernís plan out of business.

CH: Yes. There was talk during that time, maybe before and after of creating a port, a larger port there at Astoria. And I believe that you actually wrote some articles, editorials about that. Were there other ideas aside from the coal in terms of developing that?

BF: Yes. Yes, one was that the gross of exporting of Oregon agricultural products, wheat was just one of many going to Asian countries, that it would be cheaper to export those through the port of Astoria than for the ships to go up, all the way up the river to Portland. That was the one that we - that was our game.

CH: And was there a receptive audience for that?

BF: No, there was not [laughs]. The Port of Portland then had very good control of the Oregon legislature on that subject.

CH: Who was your biggest supporter of the idea in terms of developing the port?

BF: The residents of the area.

CH: What about in the legislature?

BF: Lower Columbia legislators, of course, and others on the coast shared our viewpoint from I guess from the California line on up the coast, the coastal counties.

CH: One of the issues regarding building the port there was also that dredging would not have to take place on the Columbia as much.

BF: Yes, and thatís still at the heart of the controversy now of whether they should be allowed to dredge the Columbia.

CH: What were the negative effects of dredging?

BF: One of the big ones was on the big crab grounds, that would be very vitally affected.

CH: And did that in fact happen?

BF: All the dredging has not been done. There hasnít been any dredging.

CH: I thought they had done some dredging in...

BF: No, no. Just maintenance work, but not the big project. No, no.

CH: Right, right. Whatís happened to the crab grounds in the more recent years?

BF: They have not been affected yet, because they have been very carefully avoiding any dumping residue in there.

CH: Was there talk about the affect that dredging might have on estuaries and...

BF: Oh yes, yes.

CH: And you had talked about a study at Chinook regarding dredging, and I wasnít really sure what all that was about. Do you remember that?

BF: [words unintelligible]

CH: It was one of the articles that I showed you earlier...

BF: Oh, during the time that I was chairman of the Clatsop County Economic Development Committee, has become a commission since then, we launched the Youngís Bay project where fish are propagated and very carefully harvested. And that has been so successful that we urged the creation of a similar facility at Chinook on the Washington side of the river.

CH: Was there anything unusual about that particular hatchery that....

BF: It was conceived by a man who worked at Oregon State University in its maritime, marine research facility, a Chinese American named Duncan Law. And he had been the consultant on some developments in China where he had been born - heíd been born in Shanghai - and saw the kind of thing that has been done in Youngís Bay in China and how successful it was. And then later saw the same thing in the Scandinavian countries in Norway and Sweden. And it was he who launched the Youngís Bay project as a member of the Economic Development Committee. And thatís been very successful. And that I think is the best single response to whatís happened to the fishery resource on the Columbia.

CH: Also in terms of the port, having a port in Astoria, you had mentioned the problems of potential spills on the river, the possibility of tankers being grounded or spilling chemicals, things like that. Do you recall much of the debate about that?

BF: Oh yes. Some of the people were into the movement of - were involved in navigation on the river said that was nonsense, there was - exaggerated.

CH: Your paper had an article about the use of pilot at Astoria, that a lot of boats actually didnít use pilots, and that could be fairly hazardous.

BF: Of course, this is pilots on the river. The pilots that bring ships across the bar, either coming into the river or leaving the river are absolutely essential. There have been so many fatal accidents on the bar that the big ships that come in and out of the river, their ships masters on those craft would never consider navigating the entrance to the Columbia River on their own. And they have to have pilots.

CH: And even recently there have been stories about how difficult it is just for the pilots to get out to the boats.

BF: Oh yes, yes. Itís been known for years as the graveyard of the Pacific so many ships have gone down there. And many lives lost.

CH: Really. Have there been any major accidents in modern times with boats there?

BF: Oh yes, yes.

CH: With big boats, tankers?

BF: Oh yes, yes.

CH: Hum. Have the estuaries around that lower Columbia area been affected by any of these accidents or spills on the river?

BF: Oh yes. They recovered.

CH: And what about the aluminum plants? You had several articles about the possible effect of aluminum plant emissions of fluoride particles.

BF: Yes. I wish I could remember what the conclusion of that was. It resulted I think in some correctives, but I canít remember the particulars.

CH: There was talk about how the aluminum plants, the air that they emitted from the process of making aluminum would produce pollution that would come down into the water and the woods and...

BF: Yes, and on agriculture. Yes.

CH: Yes. Was that ever...

BF: Oh, it was examined and decided that it was not a major factor.

CH: Yes. I see, I see. And what about the Hanford, the Hanford and Trojan issues in terms of the lower Columbia River?

BF: Editorially I supported the continuation of the Trojan operation pointing out that nuclear power plants were very much present in the British Isles and in Europe, and that people who were living next door to them without any accidents and that the only major accident had been totally avoidable in Russia. A big one there. And the threat of the Trojan plant to the people of the Northwest were really overdrawn as far as I was concerned.

CH: And so...

BF: Hanford, of course, lost its importance. It was building nuclear weapons. At the end of World War II why that ceased to be important.

CH: They were generating some electricity from that plant...

BF: They were generating some, yes.

CH: There was an article...

BF: There is still - as you know there is still some concern about seepage, underground seepage from Hanford into the Columbia.

CH: Was that of much concern to people in Astoria?

BF: Oh my, yes. Yes. I think people all up and down the river were concerned about that one. And that one, all the returns are not in on that one yet [laughs].

CH: Were you involved in that in the paper on those issues, the paper...

BF: Not any more than an editor would be on a Columbia River town. Yes.

CH: How did you feel that the federal government should address the problems at Hanford?

[End of tape 2, side 1]

Tape 2, Side 2
3 June 1999

BF: ...trip was with Tom Vaughn. You know Tom?

CH: Sure.

BF: We went to Puerto Rico.

CH: Tom and Sherry ?

BF: Yes.

CH: As far as the lower Columbia goes, there was a very critical article that came out in Look Magazine by a writer by the name of Paul Jacobs in 1971. The Astoria paper commented quite a bit about its charges that there was suppressed information on the exposure of in testing and of fall-out and milk, and the committee of scientists that came up with their findings, that was suppressed. And also concern about the storage of nuclear waste and the first in Colorado that took place at their nuclear facility. Do you remember that article by any chance?

BF: Just vaguely. I was at pay in Pendleton then before I went to Astoria. And yes, I remember it because there was concern in eastern Oregon and Washington just as there continues to be about Hanford. Yes, I remember the article but not vividly.

CH: Was there much concern there in Pendleton about safety issues and the possible...

BF: Oh yes. And there is now. The Umatilla Ordinance Depot is just south of Pendleton, quite close to Hermiston, and the storage of the huge number of weapons. And now why there is a facility being constructed to get rid of those weapons? And so that there has been concern up in that part of the country for a long time.

CH: Was there much controversy when those facilities were established there?

BF: Oh my, no. Because it was a war effort.

CH: So people were being patriotic by...

BF: Oh yes, sure. We were told this was necessary, so be it.

CH Right. And also there was a - and I think this goes back to what we were saying a few minutes ago about the estuaries and the aluminum facility. There was one called Amax?

BF: Yes.

CH: That was proposed for Warrenton?

BF: Yes. In Warrenton across the river from Astoria. Oh, yes, I arrived in Astoria at the height of that controversy [laughs].

CH: What position did you take on that?

BF: I thought that we needed to diversify the economy and that the aluminum should be built in the location that had been determined for it.

CH: Is that because of the problems the economy was having with fishing?

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: And are there other issues on the river that you addressed in your paper either at Pendleton or Astoria that we havenít talked about? For instance Native American rights? In 1974 there was the Boldt decision that gave Indians half of the fish in the river. Are there other issues like that you looked at?

BF: Oh, well, of course anything that affected the river and the people dependent on the river, why I commented on editorially of course.

CH: How did you feel about the Boldt decision?

BF: Iím sorry, I donít know. I donít know what I said [laughs].

CH: Yes. In general how did you feel about the Native American fishing rights?

BF: Oh, I thought that they had to be accommodated, and I didnít know just how it should be done. But the Indians over the years have been wronged in so many ways that I felt that we had to do right by them.

CH: And in 1980 the Northwest Power Act came into being after the WPPSS...

BF: The Northwest Power Planning Council, yes.

CH: Right. What is your feeling about that?

BF: Oh, I was very much in favor of it. I thought that should have been done much earlier.

CH: And how do you feel that they have performed?

BF: Oh, I think that generally quite well.

CH: Was there much input on that issue in terms of either the WPPSS disaster or the administration of the river by the Northwest Planning Power Council in your paper or by your views?

BF: Oh, of course, yes, yes. The former editor of the East Oregonian became the - oh - with the Northwest Power Planning Council [words unintelligible] - he wrote all their news releases and kept the press informed about what they were doing.

CH: What do you see as the main problems on the river nowadays? Or up until now? What are the main areas of concern that you have, especially on how the river is being managed?

BF: I think that itís possible to accommodate navigation, irrigation, the fishery resource, and hydroelectric production to that vast river and its tributaries to fairly and equitably can manage all of those. And I think that the Northwest Power Planning Council is on the right track, but I think that they need to do more. They are in a difficult position because they have special interests that are well represented in Congress to make their task difficult.

CH: What would you have them do that they are not doing right now? What would you have them change?

BF: I would have them take a leading role in resolving the fishery problem. I think thatís the agency that ought to lead the way.

CH: And what do you think needs to be done with the fisheries?

BF: To call in some experts to see what can be done to conserve whatís left of the fishery resource in the river.

CH: How did you feel about the Endangered Species Act when it came out?

BF: Oh, I thought that - I didnít sympathize with that.

CH: And when the salmon was listed as an endangered species, what was the reaction like in Astoria?

BF: Oh, I guess, ďWhy didnít they get at this sooner? Why did it take them so long to get around to it.Ē [laughs]

CH: In your view what do you see as the main reasons that the fish had declined?

BF: Improper passage. So many fish being destroyed in the turbines on the dams, at the dams.

CH: The young fish coming down.

BF: Yes, yes.

CH: And then difficulty with the other fish going up.

BF: Not so much with that as there is the young fish coming down being destroyed in the turbines.

CH: And do you think that if they could solve that problem that would alleviate the worst of the damage?

BF: Yes, I think it would. Yes.

CH: What else would you have them do?

BF: Oh, I think Iíd have them concentrate on that. Weíre never going to have again the conditions related to the fishery resource restored to what they were before the dams. Thatís just illogical to expect anything of that magnitude. It just wonít be. And now the proposal that all the dams be taken out is just preposterous.

CH: What about some of the dams that people are most critical of, the lower Snake River dams.

BF: Yes, I think those can go without any serious loss to all the other uses. But as for restoring the river to what it was before the dams were built, the big dams, thatís just street talk.

CH: But when the lower dams of the Snake River went in, were you critical of them then?

BF: No, I was not.

CH: But now you feel that they could go and that would be a major step in helping the salmon?

BF: I donít know if it would be a major step, but I think it would be an important one.

CH: Other people have talked about in addition to those four dams - a number of people that Iíve interviewed suggest that those four dams could be breached and that the John Day would be drawn down so that it would be easier for fish to get through that long lake, that would be a really major factor in bringing the rates to what they were in the early nineteen seventies before that those dams were built. Do you think that is a good idea?

BF: Iíd like to leave that to the experts, to the marine biologists at Oregon State University and elsewhere to deal with that and how that should be done and what the likely results would be.

CH: On the John Day?

BF: Yes. I donít think that I as a layman qualified to judge that.

CH: Yes. You donít happen to know what the scientists have said about that down at OSU?

BF: No. No, I donít. No.

CH: Are there other - was there much controversy in Astoria when you were there about the international fishing boats off the coast that were also harvesting?

BF: There was to this extent. The Japanese were using nets, and thats why I vigorously protested.

CH: What about the conflicts that took place between the United States and Canada on the controlling of harvesting? And then eventually there was a treaty between the U.S. and Canada.

BF: Yes. Yes, there was a treaty. I donít remember what editorial position I took on that Canadian-U.S. hassle.

CH: In terms of the, and some of the other issues that affect the Columbia River and its management, what about logging and the riparian zones near streams?

BF: I think that the people who are best qualified to deal with those problems are doing quite a good job. And the people in the logging and lumber business are submitting to their recommendations.

CH: Are there other issues on the river that you would like to talk about?

BF: No, I donít think of any. I find that I canít - Iím unable to join those people who say that one of the great mistakes of our times was building dams on the river. I donít agree with that [laughs]. I think it has accomplished many benefits.

CH: And are there other environmental concerns that you do have that environmentalists have brought up?

BF: Iíve been involved in the creation of a [word unintelligible] education center at Astoria, and I think that the industry itself has not done all it should have to rely on marine biology. Iím convinced that the marine biologists are right when they say that there is much more that they donít know than they do know about whatís in the waters of the oceans. And we need to rely on them to a greater extent.

CH: So much progress was made in the nineteen sixties under Tom McCall and others in terms of cleaning up the...

BF: And Bob Straus.

CH: And Bob Straus as well, of cleaning up the river. And then in more recent years thereís been a lot of non-source point contamination as a result of, oh, people in the cities washing their cars or agricultural pesticides and things like that are going down the stream. What would you do about those kinds of issues?

BF: Why I think itís a matter of educating the public to the nature of the problem. And Iíve found that approach in solving many problems has been quite effective, that you can educate the public on these things.

CH: Do you think the public if they had enough education would voluntarily change their habits?

BF: Yes, I think they would. Yes. And I know that the evidence is overwhelming that they wonít every year when they - well, I guess weíve got one here this weekend cleaning up the mess in Portland, all the tin cans and everything else that is thrown out. I hear people say that youíre never going to get the public to turn around and put that - what do you think?

CH: They have a really good program called SOLV.

BF: Yes. And SLV has taken on the one in Portland now. Theyíre going to try to clean things up here. And they certainly have been effective on the ocean coast.

CH: Yes. You know Paul Hanneman introduced the bottle bill in the legislature and Tom McCall latched on to that, and I presume that thatís had a pretty big impact on keeping some litter down.

BF: Oh, yes. Of course it has.

CH: Is there anything else you would like to add to all this?

BF: No, no. [laughs] Now Iím eighty-five years old and I have spent most of those years in the Northwest, and I feel extremely fortunate to have done so. And now Iím back living in my birth place, and I think itís truly one of the most beautiful cities in the country. And many people deserve credit for that. I feel fortunate to be a native Oregonian and to have been living here as many years as I have and to have had the opportunity to weight in on some of the big decisions that have been made over the years.

CH: I know that you have been a major voice in many of the issues that have taken place in our region.

BF: There was a - last week I was surprised, we have been gathering things together here to - what to throw out and what to keep, and I guess I was just not aware or I had forgotten that when I retired the letters that I got from people thanking me for my contribution. I was grateful but I just never paid much attention to it until I got out this stack of letters [laughs]. So I guess I have had some impact.

CH: Iím sure you have. I would like to thank you for helping us with this project.

BF: My goodness, Iím flattered that you want to talk to me [laughs].

CH: Thank you very much.

BF: Youíre entirely welcome.

[End of interview]


Events Calendar <>Community Histories <>Oral Histories
Curricula <>Student Projects <>River History
Public Programs <>Resources<> Special Projects
Contact Us