Garrett, Dave Oral History Interview
This is Paul Hirt of Arizona State University with Jen Sweeney, also of Arizona State University, interviewing Lawrence David Garrett at his home in Olathe, Colorado, on August 9, 2018. Dave, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your career in natural resources management and how it eventually led you to involvement in the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program [GCDAMP] and the Grand Canyon Research and Monitoring Center [GCMRC]?
Okay. So I’ll try to show the connectivity between the activities that we put together and I directed, and my past, which was, it’s a long chronicle, but I’ll make it short. So my interest in resource management goes to my junior year in high school, where my brother and I took a course in wildlife management out of Outdoor Life. Which proved to be, of course, futile, it had no–it added nothing to nothing. But it did spark my interest in resource management. So I went on to do a fisheries and forestry bachelor’s and then a management, a straight management master’s, but with natural resources as a minor.
Where was that?
And that was at Southern Illinois University for the bachelor’s and Michigan State for the master’s. And then, I worked for the Forest Service a while and then thought I needed a doctorate, because I questioned a lot of management strategies (laughter). And so, it caused me to go back and take a doctorate, actually, in a different direction. So it was operations research, which now is referred to as systems analysis, and, um, and economics. I took a major in economics and a minor in operations research and then spent, uh, at twelve different loca–eleven different locations across this country, east, west, south and north, um, time with the US Forest Service. First with private industry, actually, with a couple of private industry companies. And then with the Forest Service because I liked the Forest Service’s past image in conservation management practices. So I did that for twenty-some odd years, and then decided that I needed a change, and I went into consulting for a while, um, but didn’t like that aspect of it at that time, during that era. So then I decided to go into the academic side of programming.
When was that twenty-year period that you were working in the Forest Service?
That would have been from around ’65 to ’84.
Ooh. Time of significant change.
Time of significant change. And I began to question everything, and–I directed research facilities all over the country, and I didn’t like where were–where I–did not like where we were not going with Forest Service research in the West. I guess that’s the best way. So, I looked around at universities, I looked first at Colorado State. And they have a good program up there, in forestry and natural resource management. And, uh, I got–I made it on the first draw, and they changed provosts while, while the faculty was considering bringing me in. I won the pool, in other words, and then lost it. And, because that new provost wanted to run it back out. I encouraged the existing dean, director of the natural resources program, throw his hat in the ring, and he got it. And I came in second on the second round. So it’s interesting lifestyle. So, but then Northern Arizona University (NAU) wanted me, because the president wanted a change there. And I–and he agreed to what I wanted to do. And what I wanted to do was to take a program that was a traditional forestry program and turn it into an ecologically-based program that looked at both biophysical and socioeconomic issues related to natural resource management. He agreed, gave me free rein, and so I spent eleven years there, building and doing that program, and you might know Covington, Wally.
Wally Covington. [DG: Yes] Dr. Covington.
I brought in a diverse set of faculty, female and male, and a Native American, started a Native American forestry program. But all of those programs had to have a basic twist to it. Everything in forestry resource management–natural resources, fish, wildlife–had to be adaptive management-based. All–
Not theoretical, but applied.
Not theoretical. All, all of the courses had to be team-taught. No courses could be not, could be same old discipline-taught. All had to have both economics, social issues, biological issues, physical issues in the classroom. At one time. So we used teams of three. So, that entire program. And so–
That was the 1980s?
That was, that went all the way, I think, to ’94, ’95. [PH: Very innovative.] So I went from about ’84 to ’95 and I, uh, uh, the president allowed me free rein. Like I said, I had a lot of, I mean I was strongly connected to many political leaders in the Southwest and from the county governments up. And, who had many diverse ecological, economic, and social issues. So I was, I also was connected to both the environmental community and the industrial community. Grazers, timber producers, river rafters, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, I worked with everybody. So, um, they loved my program. We had a good program. And uh, I, I left there, I was going to retire. And, uh, I decided I, I lasted six months now. I decided I was going to open a consulting firm. That consulting firm was interdisciplinary science and management. And so, uh, it’s called M3 Research. It was originally multi-resource management research, um, but, and I just called it M3.
And so, that’s when I connected with the Secretary [of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt]. I had been very good friends with him when I was the dean, because he wanted some–he wanted to look at these diverse social, economic and biophysical, um, dysfunctional, programming. He thought there was a lot of problems. And as you know, he ran for president, when he was governor there [in Arizona]. And so then, when there was an administration change [Clinton administration elected in 1992] and he went to Washington, he called me up and wanted me to come and interview for a position with him, and his sta–and his direct staff. At the time, I didn’t really–I knew he wanted to try to do something with a biological survey, with science in Interior. He wanted to change the direction of science in Interior. I don’t–at that time, science in Interior was vested in the individual management groups, but it was directed all by management officials, rather than science directors. So, they were ge–they were moving that direction.
He [Bruce Babbitt] wanted an entirely new concept. He wanted to take all the science out of every area of management–Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, BLM [Bureau of Land Management]–and put it under one science entity called the National Biological Survey. If you recall through history, there was a National Biological Survey, way back when. But it didn’t have the context that, he wanted entirely new–he wanted a science program that really was driven out of adaptive management concepts. And so, when I was with the Forest Service, I, uh, C.S. Holling and I became good friends. And that worked down through his staff. And so I, when I was with the Forest Service, spent a lot of time working with the people up at University of British Columbia, who, where that whole program of adaptive management came from. And then at the end of my career with the Forest Service, before I went to NAU, I took on a staff direction out of Washington to go to the Tongass National Forest, which was under chaos. It was doing a plan–you remember that plan?
And I was sent in there to see if we could put adaptive management concepts in there. So that’s what I did. And we wrote a couple of big models, and my background was systems science, one of my backgrounds. And so the long and the short of it was, this all promoted itself to Babbitt, who knew about all this when I worked with him as governor. He had this idea, he wanted that. And then he said, “Well, then will you come?” And I said, “Well, I’m really ready to retire.” (Laughter.) And he said, “Well, will you come for a while?” So that’s what I decided to do. So that was the start of Babbitt and I’s affiliation to look at adaptive management concepts and, uh, Interior. And the, the GCMRC, the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center was, was truly, his whole idea. Just like the National Biological Survey was. And then–and that was, maybe, politically, it was a great idea, I think.
Was that originally going to be under the US Geological Survey, or did he have a different idea?
No, it was going to be a separate [PH: separate] directorship. It was going to, it would be side by side with the US Geological Survey, and the National Park Service. It would have its own director, the National Biological Survey. And, uh, it–we did for a while, we, there were three or four of us brought in and it–we did an eighteen-month run and then just got brutalized by a cross-current of politics of an administration and Congress. That’s what happened.
It was just–
It was a wonderful idea, but it was the wrong timing, I think. And I think he finally realized that. Well, the long of the short of it, one of them–it was a great idea, we didn’t get that done, and he didn’t get that done. And I know he wanted to get that done, and we all tried hard. Then he wanted to do this other thing, he wanted to take this very (pause) this program that had been out of the Bureau of Reclamation (pause) and turn it in, on the Colorado River, the science on the Colorado River, turn it into an adaptive management science program. And so, uh, and he wanted interdisciplinary, he wanted it to be responsible to a large adaptive management group. The largest I ever worked with. I worked with many different adaptive management groups, some on the Tongass, but many others that I worked with on different forests in the Southwest when I was with the Forest Service, but this was large, and very diverse.
He, um, he put that whole thing together. I mean, conceptually, he put the whole thing together. He said, “I want this diverse adaptive management group.” He assigned that to a certain agency [unintelligible]. “I want this science center,” he assigned that to me [unintelligible]. He made these assignments. “And I want it to operate this way.” So it was all his idea. I mean, a lot of people take credit for it, but it was, it was his idea and only a Secretary can make those kind of things happen. And so we were all pleased, those of us involved. So, um, so when we designed that, I put together a technical advisory group which was also totally–out of all the, you know, environmental community, the agencies, the Native American community, it had– So I drafted it from a group of people that worked directly with the adaptive management program group that he set up, and could only be set up politically by the Secretary. And so, that’s how we designed the science center. We did it that way.
Do you recall what year that was that you were trying to design the science center?
That would have been in ’96. ’95, ’96.
So the adaptive management program had been authorized and going, but you didn’t have a science center yet, right?
We, the–we had to have the management group first, because it was a decision body. It then approved all of the activities that we were putting together there. Now I will say that, because he wanted everything done in a twelve-month period, that this was, was not politically approved while we had–we put this other planning group in place. And so they both came together. He wanted it all to come together at the same time. And it did. We made it happen. We made it all, made it happen, and it didn’t–and it did. So. And um, I thought, and this is my position now, and I think it’s true to–I think this way today, now I say today because I’ve been away from it for five years, but I stay in contact with directors that followed me. And they– have you talked to Jack yet?
We interviewed him a month ago.
Oh did you? So, I feel like that, even today, this is one of the best architectures and best operating set of adaptive management specialists, both at the, both at the quasi-policy level and at the science level. I really do. I think it was done very well. I think that we had the right mix of groups, and by groups–
I mean social groups, policy groups and science groups. I think we had the right mix. We brought in the very best scientists, we brought in the very best minds from management and the policy arena. So I thought that we did an excellent job there. And a lot of people have questioned it. You’ve probably read some of the articles, and they’ve questioned its capability to carry off truly adaptive management and, uh, but I think they, they’re (pause) to make a measurement of success, you have to, you have to develop some very good criteria and then some very good standards to measure that criteria with. And I think a lot of people who look at it and try to determine its capability and its, and what it’s done over time, I think they (pause) I think they miss on the criteria, and I think they miss on the measurement.
The criteria for determining success?
Right. And then it’s (pause) adaptive management is, it’s a moving target at all times. By definition [PH: by definition], it is a moving target. And so, and it can sometimes move very rapidly. We saw that while we were in there. And I know Jack saw it, I know the directors have seen that. Barry Gold saw it, where, when I left I asked the Secretary to appoint him. I think that in hindsight, my hindsight now, and like I say, now there’s a five-year blip here that I, so I haven’t stayed–I’ve been, it’s more than five years, actually. It’s about eight years. And I, but I believe it’s probably one of the best adaptive management programs. At least on this continent. Florida, there’s, there were–the Chesapeake program was a great program, the program out of Florida was a great program. I mean, there have been, they’re great programs, don’t get me wrong, but I think this one was (pause) because it, because it was, um (long pause) policy-wise, put right at the top of government, and because management and science-wise, was put right at the floor. We had, we had government scientists in there, obviously, we had to, we had to bring people out of the university setting and bring them in and appoint them as government employees and that sort of thing, but the, um, the universities that have been involved in that program are extensive. Excellent, excellent people been brought into that program to handle some very difficult tasks. So–
Can you tell me if you know how and when GCMRC got placed under the aegis of the USGS [US Geological Survey]? Was it from the very beginning, [DG: No, no] was GCMRC part of USGS?
No it wasn’t. The Secretary [Babbitt] didn’t want that. What the Secretary wanted, there was and–it’s not uncommon in the US government–what he wanted was a special program that was kind of, from a policy perspective, under the Secretary to evaluate performance-wise through time. So the Secretary himself or herself could evaluate the performance of that program through time. That it didn’t get lost under a regional manager or a director of the Park Service or so, but that it–so he wanted that program in his office and he, that’s where he put it. He put it right under his Assistant Secretary of Water and Science. And so he could, on Monday morning staff meetings, know exactly what was going on there. And I spent a lot of phone time in those staff meetings, and in the staff meetings. I mean, you know, I–I cycled into Washington about every two weeks and, uh, to be available to the Assistant Secretary to the Secretary, over their concerns about how the program was being put together and what was going on. That sort of thing. He wanted that because he thought that policymakers needed to be involved in the growth and maturity and evolution of the adaptive management process.
Because Holling’s concepts were born out of a university science atmosphere, where scientists had much of what was to be said about what adaptive management should respond to. And, uh, and even though policy was a big issue there and they knew it, the early people in the adaptive management scene, I was one of them. Holling, of course, was our grandiose leader. So I think that, that what he thought was that [Holling?] there needed to be a, didn’t have to be a hard touch, but it needed to be a touch from the director of the policy arena. And so a bigger touch, I mean the Secretary can touch things when it comes to governmental programs, whether management or science. He had already demonstrated that right out of the box when he went in and decided to move all science into an interdisciplinary science program, and separate from management. If you work for private industry and you work in science in private industry, you’ll get a real feeling for independence. How–how it may lack. Of course, the best place to be is in an academic enterprise, as we all know. We’ve been there. That–that’s where freedom of science is best articulated. Government is not always that way. Many science programs are directed right out of management groups. Management gets the funding and then they direct it over to the science program, but they direct (pause) what the question might be.
That’s part of what you were referring to earlier in the interview, when you said you were not happy with the science program at the US Forest Service. Is that because it was too narrowly directed towards management goals, and–or too, or the management goals were too narrow?
Both of those–
Can you be more specific?
I felt both those. I felt both of those, and that is why I left the Forest Service. And I was working in science. I worked first in management, then I went directly to science. And science was too narrow–you know, the science directors were not allowed to step out and look at other things. Now there was–the deputy chief there, there is a deputy chief of science, just like there’s a deputy chief for management, but (pause) but management, [PH: runs the show] in the Forest Service, runs the Forest Service. It does, and it’s, you know, it’s my big concern about, for example, how we manage the, what I call the drier montane forests of the West. I think it’s been a big mistake. Dr. Covington and I, we developed a whole program, with many colleagues in many other universities to point out that there are some issues here. You’ve got to look differently than you look at this, this our comments to the Forest Service, and BLM [Bureau of Land Management], and yeah, I decided to go into the academic enterprise because of that. The Secretary, by the way, was–here’s a Secretary take a fresh look. He said, “No,” (Pause) “let’s not just run a science program. Let’s run a science program that is strictly based on adaptive management science.”
And this is Secretary Babbitt.
That’s Babbitt. Yeah. I think he was one of the first Secretaries that really looked at it that way, that way.
So you were there at the birth of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, which is the, kind of the science arm, in a sense, of the adaptive management program. How did you ensure that it would remain as an independent science organization? What would, what steps did you take to insulate it from, kind of, political and economic and management pressures?
Well, that (pause) I wanted it to report directly to an Assistant Secretary as well. Because it had been in the Bureau of Reclamation and the, as a different kind of a program. And there was science going on in the Colorado River, but a Secretary, the Secretary felt that that science needed to respond directly to a science goal, and it needed to respond to a group of people who represented all the interests related to that river. And, so that’s the adaptive management program. The science, [cough] the science leader was to work–this was interesting–did not work for, and it was not directed by, the adaptive management chair. That science leader went right to the Assistant Secretary.
So I worked for the Assistant Secretary of science, and basically, at the time, the director deferred to the Secretary. Because the Secretary had a strong interest in making sure it stayed, how do I say this, clear to his goals. And so how did I ensure it? I ensured it by agreeing with the Secretary, because I, that’s the reason I went there in the first place, was that I thought he had an excellent idea and–because I was going to leave after we failed with the National Biological Survey. I–other people did leave, and I was going to leave, and as one of the directors, and he said, “Would you stay if we put this together?” And I said, “Okay, I’ll do that,” because that’s something that I had at NAU.
Yeah, it was close to that.
I’ll do. I’ll do that. That’s exactly what I had at NAU. And so, it’ll, the only, this is interesting though, this is interesting. The one group that the Secretary did not put on the adaptive management program was a leader from the academic community such as a dean or a vice president (laughs).
Because he had one in you (laughter).
He said that there’s enough strength here with, this science leader will always be from that community. So, and he was right. Now, when I left, they started losing that capability and as you know, it went–there was a throw-up at one time that it was to go over to, um, back to the Bureau of Reclamation, and–
You left as director of the GCMRC in 1998?
1997, ’98. And it was independent at that point, it was not under the USGS.
But it was associated with the adaptive management program, but independent.
It was independent.
And after you left, then there was a discussion about whether to put it under a federal agency like BOR [US Bureau of Reclamation, or USBR] or–
And it, so, it went under the biological director of the US Geological Survey. So it went–
Was that when Ba–was Babbitt still making decisions at that point?
No, that was actually made by a, another Assistant Secretary, and I’m trying to get his name right now as we speak, but we went through three Assistant Secretaries, there was a lot of transition there. And (pause) there was, there was a choice to put it under the Bureau of Reclamation again, or put it into the US Geological Survey. And um, and Mark, Mark, Mark. I’ll get his name. He made the decision that it would go to USGS. He made, he made that decision. I think it was a good decision.
Around 1998 or something.
Yeah, I think that was a good decision.
By the way, I just don’t think it should have been, it should go back under–I just didn’t believe that it would have been near as effective under the Bureau of Reclamation. Not because the Bureau of Reclamation doesn’t do great things. They do great things. It’s just that again, it’s a management bureau. I mean, it’s, and–science [Both talking at once]–
USGS is a science bureau.
Is, is–it’s not always–um, you know, supported by a management direction. I mean, it, you know, many university science programs would never actually get off the ground if they were in a management organization. They would never get off the ground. We all know that. Those of us who’ve been in academic community, that’s just the place to be if you want to create independent science.
So let me ask you a question. One more sort of drill-down question about the relationship between the Adaptive Management Working Group and the GCMRC. Science is supposed to be the foundation of decision-making in adaptive management [DG: Yes. That’s right], so you had to do a lot of science. And you were, you know, ensuring that the science was broad-based and interdisciplinary and credible. And the Adaptive Management Working Group was trying to figure out what kind of science would be useful to making management, adaptive management decisions. How did you decide, in those first years, when everything was just forming, how did you decide what would get funded?
We would–and it was, and it worked that way later, too, under a series of directors. I established a protocol that the science program would submit a plan to the adaptive management group, work group. That that plan then would be passed [approved] by that group, would then be–before it went, and recommended–and recommended–to the Secretary. The Secretary, if there was a difference of opinion, the director, I could go to the Secretary and say, “This has to stay.” But (pause) I’ve, the way I wrote that originally, and it’s still that way, I said that there had to be a formal agreement between the two groups, and so it meant that there was dialogue, so it meant that you put a draft in, that’s what it meant, and that draft could then be argued–you, the director got to present the argument for the science community and then, the group would then talk about various things and discuss with the director whether or not the funding should go where the director wanted it to go. And it was, even at the beginning, I did what the Secretary wanted to do, but I think people knew that the Secretary had such a special interest in this that I was given, what do you say, a honeymoon, a little bit. I think that occurs. And, but, that honeymoon didn’t last hardly any time at all, because I wanted, like I say, adaptive management changes in a hurry. And when you run into some snares, and we found some, we found some very interesting problems within three years of opening that science program–
They required some clear decision-making on the part of the adaptive management group. Well, such as where that humpback chub population was going, for one.
Right at the beginning, that reared up.
Right at the beginning. And such as, where we were losing beaches for the recreation opportunity in that canyon was another. So, um–
So those weren’t high on the radar before that. That all sort of became sudden priorities during those first three years.
Well, you get, you sudden–you focus the science and all of a sudden it’s clear what’s, you know, we have issues here. You have real scientific data that said there’s, there are some issues here. You have to, and so, we had to (pause) we had to make some changes. There were, there was a lot of emphasis early on in recreation management because of the Park Service, you know, having a major program there in recreation management. But what we found was that we had some flexibility, that you just didn’t have to spend millions upon millions on researching that sand, and you needed to move some of those millions into the biological arena, because you have problems that are, that no one has discovered. Now all of a sudden, we’re discovering them. And one was predation on those humpback chub populations. The other was actually water quality issues.
And so, I mean, you just–so then I, right away, wanted to make a shift to a lot more biological research and I sh–in order to do that, you’ve got to take money, say we don’t need to spend that amount of money on beach programming, beach research, sand disposition. And, uh, the adaptive management group did its job. I mean we, it allowed that science group to gain more information, solid information to make good decisions. So that’s why I say I thought it worked fair–I thought it worked. I thought that it worked well. And I’ve talked to other directors since then, and some had difficulty, some did not. Some of that was personality, I’m sure, on the part of new adaptive management group people, new directors, that sort of thing. But all in all, I think those science directors there have had a good run of being able to convince the adaptive management group of changes they needed to make in those science programs. So I really believe that. So–
How did, um–so there’s never an infinite amount of money available for research. I’m sure you had a budget and that meant that you had to prioritize what would get funded first, or most. How were the negot–the human sort of dimension of that negotiation of priorities over what should be funded. Can you talk a little bit about how that got negotiated?
Yeah, I’ll tell you, there was two major negotiations that I think are important, really. One is that when I first wrote the [unintelligible] direction there, I wrote that the plan would be approved every year.
A research plan.
The research plan would be approved every year, and that–so then, only an annual set of studies would be approved. Now I knew there was, there, that in the area or arena of science that’s not a good, not a good programmatic direction to take. I did it because the Adaptive Management Working Group wanted to be, and the Secretary wanted them to be, fully informed all the time. So this meant that every year, you–
You argued, and that science director had to make very good arguments about how to continue a particular line of science. I learned quickly that that argument was not good for the Adaptive Management Work Group or the science community. That what we needed was, like, a three-year moving average. So let’s agree to a line of research that would be three years. Eventually that went to five, about three directors down the road. But for me, I went to three years pretty quickly and said, you know, we’ve got, we’ve got (pause) I can’t start a science program that takes three years to complete, and truncate it in a year. That’s not good decision making on your part. So I will be very clear and articulate about describing what has to happen in year one, two and three.
And so, that was one of the areas where we had to make a change. And you can imagine, you know, the negotiation that goes on there between the science director and individual members of the adaptive management group about–because it pulls power back away from that group, puts power into that science director’s hands that that science director in the first place didn’t think he really needed. But I needed that power, but you’ve got–that Adaptive Management Work Group is an important group, critical group, because they were looking across their problems, their problems, and we were providing a managed, a science response to a moving management issue. So they had–you had, you clearly had to work together. Closely. Closely. And so that’s when we organized, I organized–I only had to do this annually, but I organized, actually, meetings on a quarterly basis, to keep everyone strictly on board on this program.
AMWG meetings, or meetings within GCMRC?
Well, what we appointed was, underneath the AMWG group, we appointed a Technical Working [sic] Group. That the science director–
So you were there at the birth of that.
The science director could work with constantly and that group then kept these policy people fully informed, so that when we saw something coming for the annual meeting, they were fully aware that it was coming and what it was going to mean. So that was one of the ways that, that we first addressed this issue of the moving target of science. We then, later I, I just said, “We need to all bite the bullet,” and when you approve this science direction, then I’m going to give you three studies, not one, one in year one, one in year two, and one in year three. This is how we close this all for you. And so that was an important (pause) part of change, for interaction of those two groups. So, it maintained what I call continuity of, of an interdisciplinary science program, uh, but maintained the duality role very well between a management group and a science group. That was a very important–and it, and you’re right, I mean that science director, if you can’t get that budget approved, you’re very, you’re, you’re not going to get much. (Laughter.) No, you can’t. And if you have to–if you start a program, and come to you and give you a one-year contract and say, “Yeah, but we’re–we understand it’s going to take four years. Well, so you’ll, but we’re going to get you in there again.” Then the second year they come back to you and your budget’s cut by eighty percent. That won’t work. None of that works. That doesn’t work in science planning. So that, those two–doing it that way worked out very well I think. I think it worked out very well. That was a change that we made in the, in the working relationship with the two groups.
The other change that, um, that (pause) I think, that could have helped but (pause) but I didn’t think it wise to do so. So I didn’t do it, and I made it a practice and I actually advised is, my successor, to keep that practice in hand, was, one of the things that I could have done, and any director can do, and they do do, director of science programs, is they go, when they see a problem, in the group that they’re working through, they see a problem with their clients, let’s call them clients. Then they’ll go in to the one person that’s giving them a problem, and I won’t say cut a deal, but work out a compromise with that person. I thought that–and the Secretary and I, I remember us discussing it, I thought that would be a disastrous aspect of a director’s role. Trying to negotiate directly with one of those twenty-five members on the [unintelligible]. So I made it a, a working principle right up front, just like the three-year–just like the annual plan, and then when–I made it a working principle, that that director would not do that. That could not be allowed. That the director could not go individually and selectively to an individual that, that (pause) if that director had an issue that will be presented to the Technical Work Group at a quarterly meeting and then get, go right back out the [unintelligible]. And, I now I’m not sure that the directors have followed me, stayed true to that rule. I’m not sure they did.
So you’re saying that when an individual member of the AMWG team or the TWG team, they kind of overlap, um, had strong feelings about what should be funded, um, you were saying that those discussions should be worked out within AMWG or TWG and that a unified position should come to the director of the GCMRC.
Exactly. It had to be that way. [PH: OK]. I said it had to be that way.
And why do you–
Because if you think about the concept of an adaptive program, that’s, that’s, that puts science and management and–the last thing you want happening is for–
This person to go over here and be negotiating individually with this person over here. It cannot, that will fracture the process itself. And so we said that it would only be resolved in formal meetings. That’s why we selected that, but I’m not sure that’s still going on. And I’ve heard rumors.
(Laughs) And you won’t, uh, commit them to recording—[DG laughs].
No I won’t commit any of that– Because they are, they’re just rumors. I’m not. No, I, I think that many of the directors were smart. Uh, they’ve, they’ve all been friends of mine and ,uh, and right up to Jack. And I think they were, they, they understood the dynamics of the, this is not a typical system. When I was a dean, I, I worked all of those processes and it’s, it’s the, it’s the favorite role of congressional leaders, you know, to go and cut.
Individual deals. Yeah. And.
That’s what they are. So, but that’s what you’re doing when you go in there, make you go over to the director of the Park Service and say, no, okay, I will make sure that we get that taken care of. You can’t do that. You got to go into those twenty-five representatives and say, we think this needs to be done. If you feel strongly as director, then you, if you can’t carry it with that whole group then don’t try any of these selective negotiations. And, and it worked really well for me. It worked well for me. It worked well for me.
So, um, do you, um, while we’re talking about the people that you were working with at that time, are there any specific personalities that stand out to you as a people who were particularly influential, um, shaped policy or facilitated collaboration or really moved the program forward that we should be sure to interview?
You know, yes, there are. And I won’t go into uh, there, there are many good peo–these, there is a lot of people.
They may already be on our list, [speaking simultaneously] but I want to make sure nobody slips through.
They probably are on your list. There were just some really great people in that program. Um, I’ll go to the–because I have a particular affinity to the Native American programming, I put a Native American program in at NAU, one of the first things I did, was to–for training young Native Americans, and brought in, uh, three specialists. One from Harvard, one from Princeton (laughs), I mean it was amazing! I had to pay a lot of money. But anyhow, the–Kurt Dongoske was always a gentleman and always, um, an articulate (pause) compromiser. I think he was a person in Native American community programming that I could look to, to provide the, what I call the, the “common good” argument for funding various Native American–now that doesn’t mean that Kurt Dongoske did not criticize my program and how much money I spent on–and other direc–that doesn’t mean that. Because he did. But it, it was good that he did. It was good that he did, and he–but he was al–he would always recognize the accomplishment that we were getting in that area and then, and, and was quick to challenge the various tribes to step up and put more money into the program. So Kurt was one that, in many ways, stands out for me and–
We’re interviewing him next week.
Oh, you are? [PH: Yeah.] Well, please say hello to Kurt, I–
I’ll tell him you said hello.
I haven’t chatted with him in a while. Larry Stevens, in the science community, was uh, is a great scientist. Just (pause) always objective, uh, and could understand the manager side of the position, um, just like Kurt could as a member of the Native American community. He was, he was one, he helped us, actually, move some programs in the right direction. By that I mean he helped my science group. Mostly he would, he would make good, strong arguments, which I couldn’t turn my head away from. And so I, you know, I would, I would counsel with a lot of colleagues and say, “You know what? I think he’s got a good criticism here. We need to pay attention.” I–
He’s largely responsible for this administrative history being done. It was his initial idea.
It was his initial idea.
And he was our first interview.
Oh, is that right? He, he is (pause) excellent gentleman as well as a scholar. He is an excellent scholar. In the management community, there, there are actually two or three people. There was (pause) there, when, when this was moved out of the Bureau of Reclamation, the director, they (pause) I know had a lot of political strength and uh, and wanted, I think, it not to happen. But there was, there was a dir–following him, when he became the director, and I’m trying to grab his name right now. We didn’t get to work with him. Um–
No, Cliff was the director, was the director, when–
We interviewed him last year.
Did you interview the following director from him?
I don’t know who [speaking simultaneously] that would be.
The following director.
Uh, the regional director of BOR, out of Salt Lake City?
Regional Director, Bureau of Reclamation.
Yeah, I’ll just make a note.
Well he, he and I, um, (pause) he was very helpful in the transition of the program, because the Secretary asked me, “Who might I go to, encourage him to, uh, to provide the leadership.” And I said, “Why don’t you go right to the Assistant Regional Director?” And why I can’t get his name. [Possibly Roland Robison–see annotation for more info.] Oh, it’s just, it’s just skipping me a little bit. He took on–now, this is interesting, when you’re–so you’re the assistant director to a director who’s not really liking what’s going on. He volunteers to direct the transition group, which, which became the Adaptive Management Work Group. (Pause.) Well, not totally, because the Secretary selected other peo–I mean, but many of those people that were on that Transition Work Group, that I worked with to do the science program (pause) were, they ended up on the final Adaptive Management Work Group. But this gentleman took, took hold of that group, and did a superlative job and I (laughs), I always thought to myself, my God, what is he doing when he goes back to his boss at night? And the boss, “I didn’t want this going that way!” Not that Cliff is a bad guy, but Cliff was old-school Bureau of Reclamation. He really was. And he didn’t–he did not–he was totally opposed to what was going to happen with, under the, the um, of the (pause) the first bureau, that failed. That–Babbitt’s first idea. He was opposed to that. And I know, I know–
The National Biological Survey?
He was opposed to that because they had some science groups, that he lost, for eighteen months, the funding and everything. And so, I mean he, I know, and many of the Bureau of Reclamation. The ones that was most opposed to it, by the way, was the national, fish and, Fish and Wildlife Service.
They wanted to do their own science.
Well, they had the biggest science labs of any labs in the United States.
Oh my God, yes.
Bigger than USGS? Bigger than Forest Service?
Oh my God, yeah. They had, I had–I had, I think, the largest science lab, [unintelligible] I had over 350 people in that science lab. That was Fish and Wildlife Service. And a great one. They had great science programs going on. Great science programs. They, they did. They really did. But they were under the management group. But they did have great science programs going. Well anyhow, I, I’m talking so I’m trying to remember the gentleman’s name, but he would be a great person to interview because, because of what he did. You think about, you think about taking on that task, knowing full well that your organization is not particularly–
Happy about it.
You know, positive about this. And he did a great job. I thought he did a wonderful job. In the–
Did he stay on the AMWG, the Adaptive Management Work Group, or did he just facilitate its formation and independence?
Its formation and transition. No, [unintelligible] and then went back. He went back to [unintelligible, both talking at once].
Did he stay with BOR?
He went back to BOR, and then Cliff retired and he took his position. I’m sure the Secretary looked at that and said, “Man, you know, that’s a tough job for that guy to do, you know, he’s got, he’s got a lot of capability,” and he did have great capabilities. So, in the environmental community, the (pause) I think that, that there were, there were two or three people that I really thought were, were good. And, I– have you interviewed Pam [Hyde]? Um (pause) American Rivers.
She was director of American Rivers. Pam (pause) I know that she’s, she’s probably down in South America running rivers. She was, what do they call, what do they call those, trust? A trust [fund] baby? She had lots of money.
So she could do whatever [speaking simultaneously]–
Oh, do whatever she wanted to do. And then there was a (pause) a gentleman that was with the Grand Canyon Trust, and it wasn’t the director. It was their, he was their technical officer and I’m trying to get his name right now [possibly Geoffrey Barnard, see annotation for more info].
We interviewed Andre Potochnik who [D.G.: Andre] represented the river runners for a while and it was a good interview and a lot of archival documents that he gave us for the project.
Andre was, yeah, he’s the man. And he was just so good about listening. He had listened to the management side, the science side. He was so good about that. And uh, and representing the environmental position. So (pause). I’m trying to think of the, um (pause) the group, the gentleman, and he was out of Colorado.
At Grand Canyon Trust?
No. And now I’m, not the environmental community, he represented water. [Unintelligible] think of his name. Jiminy Crickets!
Yeah, there’s a water guy out of Colorado that is on our list.
He since–he retired, he’s retired. He was great because he could, he–there are many times he got the seven Basin State water people to say, “You know, this is a good idea. Maybe not be the best idea for us, but it’s a good idea for the organization.” And, why can’t I get his name? Hmm. (Pause.) Because those are the, those are the really, when you’ve, take the Native American tribes, you take the, the environmental community, and you take the water community, and the, and–in the environmental community, I’ve put both boaters–Andre, he worked on all sorts of things there.
Was Rick Johnson the guy from Grand Canyon trust that you were trying to think of?
Rick was very good. Rick was very good, [P.H. Andre suggested him–] but Andre he–Rick would at times, um, let the (pause) Trust’s political position, political position, hold him back from, you know, a collaborative walk over to [unintelligible–both talking at same time]
He felt he needed to represent his interests, or–
Yeah, he did, that he had to stay with his interests rather than stay with the interests, you know, the good of the whole. So he was, I mean, which, I mean that’s, that’s what those people are put on there for. So–
To represent something.
So those are people that I, and don’t think–
That’s the Colorado Water Conservation Board guy.
Yeah, why couldn’t I get his, Randy’s name? Randy Seaholm.
Randy, Randy came up with several very, uh, progressive ideas for the Adaptive Management Work Group. Which we pursued, which we pursued, and then we pursued it in science after they pursued in the management group. So. And then I think Kurt [Dongoske], did the same thing for the Native American tribes, Andre did for, for the recreation, for the environmental community. And (pause) so I’m trying to think, really get the name of the gentleman that was Assistant Director.
Yeah. Mark somebody, you said, right. We’ll look it up.
We, we did interview Anne Castle, who was the Secretary’s designee.
She was the–
She was Assistant Secretary of Water and Science.
And did a marvelous job, by the way.
Marvelous job. She was, I would have to say that Mark made the decision to put the program where, where it is today, but when I think of a person that, that truly embraced where we were all going, both the science and the management, and worked diligently with us on that–she would never miss a meeting. She never would miss a meeting. And uh, she, she would–you would get phone calls from her, I mean, she was actually engaged and involved. She had some pretty tough tasks on her desk during her Assistant Secretary role. So yeah, she, I would say, of the Assistant Secretaries, she was the best. She was the best of the–
That’s high praise.
While I, while I was there. Yeah.
She was a wonderful interview.
She just, marvelous person. Where is she at? What is she doing now?
She’s in Denver and she–
Consulting, I know.
Yep, she’s consulting and uh, seems to be really happy and still working and engaged, and–
Yeah. That’s good. That’s good. Yeah, she’s, she was very good.
Let me ask you, shift gears just a little bit, and ask you to sort of think if there, if you can characterize the ways in which the program evolved during the time that you were involved with it, or at least knowledgeable of it. Can you sort of like break it into phases or describe the evolution of the program, as you saw it?
Well, I (pause) yes, I think, I’ll put it into three, into, like, three phases, so that I can try to articulate some differences, clear differences. Um (pause) this, this program was designed out of the concepts of Buzz Holling and the academic community, and the few, the people that worked with adaptive management early on. We were all in the academic and science communities. Um, I tried to bring in, adaptive management, into the US Forest Service and couldn’t get it there (laughter). So, so I went into the academic community and then applied it to the Forest Service. And so, the, the beginning argument of, of putting this type of an experi–it was an experiment, experimental programming. Man– policy management and science.
That, the first two or three years were, were uh difficult, because many people wanted to do things the way they had always done. Cut deals on the side, you know. So it was, there were–that went away after about three years, I think. That went away. And uh, and I was right there and I was–so I was, I was–you know, I had people coming to me and wanting to influence me, I guess you would say. And so I was, I was strong, because this was my background as a scientist. But I come out of management, too. I was in management in the Forest Service, you know, and I believe in the management side of the house, and I believe in the need for policy direction. I believe in the, in the way we run America. I think it’s, there–it’s not the best model in the world, maybe, but it works, and it engages and involves people.
And that’s–the adaptive management concept is a concept where you don’t do science in a vacuum, and you don’t do management in a vacuum. You put these people together and you do it in a very adaptive, uh, state, because that’s the way the world operates. That’s the way biology operates. It’s the way, it’s the way all the natural resource, um, entities operate, so (pause) but the (pause) but the, the way we as individuals operated, both in the science community and in the management community, was not really that way. We, we selectively, um, leveraged positions to move a cert–move a direction for a while and then move [unintelligible]. We did not put everybody in a room and say, “We’re going to come to a common decision on what is the best approach here.” So, what happens when you do that? What happens when you do that, I believe, in the natural resource community, because biology is, is um (pause) we don’t always know that answer. It is not clear what the answer is. It really isn’t clear. And we, there are impacts that are occurring that you don’t even see, they’re not surfacing. So we don’t know. So, so this approach, this approach moves the boat this way.
Incremental and slow.
Incremental and slow. Now. And that’s true. Versus the–because I was in management for twenty years, and the science part of the US Forest Service management, which was directed by managers. And here’s the way we did it. Here’s the way we moved the boat then. (A sound that suggests high speed.) And to be candid, you, we got things so far out of sorts. Brucellosis. We got things, fire control. We got things so far out of sorts, it takes us three decades to get the boat back even close to the azimuth we need to have it on. I believe that the adaptive management program does two things. It (pause) allows people to actually believe that–it allows people to actually understand that you can get these widely divergent opinions and yet put together a management and science direction of those widely divergent opinions that actually accomplishes something. Now here, if you’ve read some of the dissenting viewpoints here, and there’s a couple writers, there are scientists that believe that, that GCMRC didn’t work and adaptive management in and of itself doesn’t work. And, um, Carl Walters and I have drank many beers over this.
We’re interviewing Carl in a couple of weeks.
You need to interview Carl. And Carl, Carl and I’ve worked together since 1984, ’85.
And uh, because he, he took over from Buzz right away. Buzz Holling. C.S. Holling. I mean, uh.
In articulating the science of adaptive management.
Yes, in articulating the science and management actions. Now Carl is the guy that organized the, um, and then the environmental group there at UBC [University of British Columbia] that actually would go out and put adaptive management groups together that had a science component. He did many of them, if you’ve read his book, I mean, you know, Carl’s done it in spades on everything. I hired him at NAU to come and look at our adaptive management program that we were putting together there. And uh, we hired, I hired him for the Tongass. He’s the guy that I used on the Tongass. He, uh, his–actually, we used his group and his Toronto group, Peter McNamee ran the Toronto group, and Carl ran the western group. But anyhow, I’ve–
You differ about the success of the program is what you were saying. You’ve had beers with him to talk about what?
Well, there are people that that say the program doesn’t work, and there are writers that (pause) that–I think Carl and I have a different perspective altogether. We think it works because it, it, we think it works because, if you could put twenty-five people, with the differences of opinion that they had, together for, I was with him for (pause) ten years, and you can still be operating effectively and uncovering new problems and solving those problems. What you do though, here’s what you do with an adaptive management program that, I think, that other people say, “Well, you know, we’re not seeing any progress here.” Well, I can show you progress, when I worked twenty years with the Forest Service, we’d go (a sound that suggests high speed), we’d bounce over here. It was progress for some very selective interests. Okay? Very selective interests. Other interests were totally disenfranchised and were suing the hell out of each other. So, what happens with adaptive management, it moves very slowly and it moves, it changes direction very slowly. I believe that’s important in natural resource management because, because even in policy, uh, we don’t know exactly what we’re doing some of the times.
Or what the effects will be [speaking simultaneously].
We’ve made some very bad rules in natural resource management and policy and law. We have made some bad rules. It’s like, you know, a benevolent dictatorship would be a great (laughs) thing, civil authority to work under, but (pause) you know, the democratic process at least allows everybody a chance to speak. So this is one of the most democratic processes (laughs) I’ve ever been into and that’s why I loved it. I (pause) so when I was asked by the US Forest [sic] to go up and do this job on the Tongass (pause) at that time there was seventeen, I think, lawsuits going, there was a whole raft of lawsuits, from the Native American tribes to the environmental community, over the, over what was happening on the Tongass.
All the clear-cutting?
Clear, well, it wasn’t just, it was overfishing. It was every, you name it, every, you know, someone was after someone. So, we went in there to try to develop some scientific direction. Carl was, his group was involved with me on that. We organized a group up there, an adaptive management group. We started out, people wouldn’t even stay in a room together. [Unintelligible] they were calling each other communists and, I mean, it was just the most terrible thing. And it took us, like, three or four meetings to get that settled down. Now you realize, we went from that in, I think it was twenty-eight months, to a plan. That wasn’t the perfect plan, but it was a plan that the parties, all the parties, got to sit around a table and bash each other to the point that they, that their point of view was considered.
Now (pause) that alone, forget about the science side of it (laughs), that alone, is critical. Now, the other important element, very important element, is the science is driven by that changing, those changing perspectives. So science is, is (pause) gets what I, what Carl, no it wasn’t Carl, but I was with this one person who was in adaptive management and he said, “What they get, scientists get, is a homogenized (laughs) direction from the management group.” And, but, it’s diverse, it’s a selective set of diverse inputs that the science community can build a science plan–you can build a science plan on. Many scientists said, “Well, no, that, it’s just crazy, the science plan itself becomes nothing.” Well, that’s not true at all. Those science plans, they were very good plans. They still are. And, and they changed. That was the other thing. We were criticized because, well the science is not changing. We made some major turns in that program and in–
In my, in my program direction. Right while I was there, that program went from (pause) and I would have to look at my individual, all of my budget lines, but I’m going to say that that program went from 75 percent of those program dollars going to water and sediment, uh, science direction, in six years, to biological direction. Now part of that was because we worked out some, some very good science on the–but part of it was we saw major problems over here that I literally had to shift money and shortcut some of the, the physical science work to do that. And that board saw the argument as being the right argument, and approved those directional changes. And I’ve seen other, I know that Jack did the same thing, and got support for it. And what he saw, that he found things that we didn’t uncover, and uh, and I think, as well, the other directors. So I think that the two aspects of it that, that you get a diverse viewpoints of people (pause) that they all are important. The Native American community has issues, and they’re affected by that river. You need to have a program direction that includes that in your management and science. The environmental community, the recreationists, the, the water, the seven Basin States. I mean there’s, there’s millions of, billions of dollars here at stake. The fiscal aspect of not tearing up a system that’s trillions of dollars of public investment. So, all of that, getting those people around the table and–now you could say, anybody could argue, “Well, the right people aren’t around the table.” Well, we’ve been at, that program’s been at it a long time, and they’ve modified it slightly, but I think the right people, I think the Secretary’s Office of Policy people, they came up with the right people.
Do you have any names of some of the people that, uh, prominent people who have criticized the effectiveness of this particular adaptive management program? Do you remember any of the critics?
Well, they’re, um, so I will point you to the literature. I think there are three scientists that have written, um–I’ll do better than that. Uh, when are you interviewing Larry?
Larry was our first interview.
Oh, he was your first interview.
But I see him and talk to him, you know, quarterly.
Well, you might ask Larry for that. There’s two scientists that have made some pretty aggressive criticism of that program. So, internally in the program, both sides, the, um, the power group and the environmental group have, have been really critical of each other. I mean, I know the Grand Canyon Trust leveled a suit. I don’t know if the power group litigated or not.
WAPA you mean, by “the power group?”
Western Area Power [Administration]. Well, CREDA [Colorado River Energy Distributors Association], I mean, there’s CREDA and WAPA. And then there, um, I know that one, I don’t, I can’t be sure that they litigated. I know that the Trust did litigate. And uh, but even it’s, this was the, this is what I keep trying–this is one of the reasons that I think that the, that it’s so important to use these kind of approaches, adaptive management. I’ve worked in the other kind of approach for years (pause) and, with the Forest Service, and basically we, we would say, “Hey, we’re, we’re here taking care of you. We’re, you know, we’re the government. We’re here taking care of you.” Well, there needed to be, the US Forest Service should have adopted what game and fish agencies, state level, adopted. You know, they all have boards. Now, now they’re–they can be politicized. I understand all this. And uh, where I think adaptive management work groups are less politicized. I think these adaptive management work groups are (pause) on federal science programs, are important. They should be–more of our federal, um, managed resource programs should have adaptive management work groups, um, advising the science direction. They really should. Forest Service being one. And Forest Service has used some of this. I mean, they really have. They’re, I mean, we were one of the first ones to do it up on the Tongass with the Forest Service, and I think the chief may have shouted a little bit at that, but, uh, I think it did work out okay.
Um, I’m going to ask you to give some concise responses to a few questions.
One which comes out of much of what you’ve been discussing recently. How would you define success in adaptive management? As briefly as possible?
(Pause.) I would define success in natural resource management in an adaptive, an adaptive program, is that, is that an active science program that addresses specifically the manage–the general management need of a group of interests, is a success. A science program that does not speak to the science of–now I’m talking about public resources, public goods.
(Pause.) If science program that, that is, that does not address the problems of a group, it’s not that that program not, might not be needed in our society, but it is not, it is not socially, um, fulfilling a need. And so, if all science programs were (pause) were at the disposal of, of a group of scientists deciding on what they will pursue as intellects, I think that’s a fallacy. I think. Not that we don’t need independent science thought and function, but if we’re addressing public goods, and we’re using science to address public goods, it needs to be at the direction of those individuals that are impacted by the outcomes. And that’s a cross section of our society. It can’t be selective. It can’t be, uh, the industrial group, it can’t be the, the policy group, it can’t be the environmental group, it’s got to be a cross section. I believe it’s a much better science program. It’s on a public good, a public good, to address the needs of a public good.
So, um, what do you think you accomplished in the years that you had some authority in shaping the program? What would you say were your most notable accomplishments?
I think that we made it clear, uh, how you can manage a recreation enterprise in the Grand Canyon that needs beaches. That needs beaches at intervals down that canyon. I think we resolved that question, and you can, you can run that river, uh, while protecting other resources in that river, fish (pause) other native–
Archaeological sites [speaking simultaneously]–
Cultural resources, and still provide those recreation beaches and that entire recreation enterprise that the Park Service does so well with down there. I think we, I think we demonstrated you can do that. We know how to do it. We didn’t know how to do it, but we know now. And we can do it.
Because of the science, you know now.
Because of the science, we know we can do it, and we know we can do it with the flows of that river at this time, because we’re doing it. That has gone from, that has gone from an, um, a question to a theoretical prospect to a proven management capability. I don’t know, um, I know that we have with the endangered species, especially the humpback chub, that we, we understand better now what management needs we have to apply in that system to affect a, a–I’m going to say a population that, that can stay in the safe zone. Because that, that’s an endangered species. And, and one of our tasks was to do that. I, and I think we now know what we have to do, in many cases, to change those population parameters. Young of year[?], reproducing fish, um, maintaining of the, the fish from predation. Maintaining the fish from water quality issues. We’ve provided all that information. That is a very, uh, it’s a difficult thing to do in that river, to do, to provide, um, a habitat (pause) in a cold clear water to a species that’s habitat was a modified cool, but totally silted, environment. So, we’ve been able to address it and move that population parameter in the direction we want to. That’s a success. The fish was going to go away if we didn’t, if we, if we weren’t, if we didn’t uncover all that science. Because it is a, it is–to make those adjustments in a system where you’ve got to provide all this water is, is an issue. So, I think that we’ve (pause) so the two major issues that were put in front of us at the beginning was, was recreation capability, to maintain that, which was primarily beaches. But it was also flows, there’s, there’s certain flows you just can’t maintain a recreation entity. We’ve done that. We’ve maintained that fish in an environment where, to be very candid, it’s, it’s very difficult to do that. We’ve maintained that fish. It’s–we’ve also, we’ve maintained, in part of that, a sports fishery, for that first sixteen months, which, which has been difficult.
Because they’re some of the predators on the humpback chub.
They’re predators. [Speaking simultaneously] They’re big predators on the humpback chub.
You want that trout fishery [talking over each other].
We found that out. When it, so, so to maintain, yeah. So, we’ve had to put some control mechanisms on brown trout, which is the hardest that predate. So those were (pause) maintaining a water supply for the most managed river, probably, on the face of this planet. Maintaining that water supply, a recreation, a contingent endangered species contingent, and a sports fishery. All of those were the challenges and, and it’s been a (pause) and we know more now about how we affect every bit of that than we ever knew before. So, the science, based on–and we’ve spent a lot of money. We’ve spent a lot of money. To the rate, I guess, of almost ten million a year. But I’ve been in a lot of science environments where I’ve spent millions of dollars.
That used to be a lot of money, not so much anymore.
That’s not so much anymore. But where we were, over time, we did not–we did–we didn’t come to those answers. I was there when we put men in biospheres areas here, there and everywhere, and spent billions of dollars. Now we let them all go away. Well not all of them, but a lot of them. So I think when you’ve got a (pause) I mean, people say to me, “Well yeah, you know, this is ludicrous to spend that kind of money” on that, you know on fish, or on water, or on sand beaches. Really?
You’re spending it on science and knowledge. Right?
Spending it on science to protect, uh, to protect a water entity. A water entity that provides the economic base for seven states. No, you’ve got to spend that kind of money. And by the way, and you need to do this, you need to listen to those people. [Unintelligible], so I, I look back on, I think it’s, I’ve done, I’ve done a lot of research in my time, done and been involved in education and management. I count it as one of my best involvements. I really do. And there will be people that’ll come right out and be–friends of mine!–and say, “Come on, Dave, you know, you’ve done–“
You’re not the first person in our interviews to say that. There’s a lot of pride and a lot [D.G.: Good!], a lot of heartfelt commitment to the process that, you know, almost everybody we’ve talked to has exhibited.
I’ve been involved in seven adaptive management working groups, which had a science component. I think that’s the best one I was involved with. It was, it was done well. And it, and I give it a lot of, uh, I mean you can argue with Secretary Babbitt, [unintelligible] most of the people argue with, from the sta–standpoint of politics, but the man had some great ideas, and this was one of them, I think. And I’m really pleased to have been involved in that, because I think it was successful. I’d argue, stand and argue with anyone about that. And for those reasons that I point out. Because we did–those were the, that was what was put in front of us. Those five, can you solve this pu–this Chinese puzzle here, five, it’s got five issues here. Big issues. This is a river that is critical to the Southwest, but you’ve got to solve these other problems, because it’s critical to these people too.
And the hydropower interests are part of that puzzle and they have a significant–
That’s right, the water, the water–it’s the physical, biological and social. And the Native American peoples, and a lot of other people that do recreation opportunity, I mean, it’s–so, yeah, I think it was very successful.
Well, on the flip side of the success coin, I’m sure there’s one or two things that you wanted to accomplish but couldn’t, or that you hoped the program would be able to do that it wasn’t able to do at the time. Is there, are there any of those examples that you can tell us about?
Well I don’t I, I don’t think (pause) that we, it wasn’t all about science. And I just don’t think that we, um, as a group, as a, as a management group, science group, I don’t think that we focused enough (pause) energy, long enough, [unintelligible] question on Native American concerns. I think that we didn’t do that. And I, uh (pause) it came down to budgets that were always a problem, it came down to social issues amongst the tribes and, and uh, between the tribes and (pause) other positions of other individuals, that I don’t think that we did as much there as, I, I would have liked to. I don’t think we accomplished as much as I would have liked.
What do you think the key tribal issues that needed to be addressed were, that you think were inadequately being attended to?
Well, how you, how you, um (pause) protect the, the religious values of the natural resource base that the, that the Native communities really think are so important. Um (pause) one of them, for example, is, is one of the things that we, we did, uh, to protect young of year fish in certain areas of the river is that we, that we killed trout. I mean thousands of trout. You know we. And, um–
That was a little controversial, wasn’t it?
Well, there was a lot of controversy, because we said we wouldn’t do it. Then we turn around and we, we did that. And I think that that was, and it got accomplished. The voting procedure, more the Native vote couldn’t sustain itself above all the others’ interest groups. But that’s America, that’s America, after all. And uh, the democratic process. Um, but I think that, maybe, we could have possibly tried some other things. Uh (pause) so I think we could’ve done a little better there. Um, and I, I know other directors agonized over that as well. Science directors. They were hoping that there were some silver bullets. We couldn’t find the silver bullets, that was our problem. We couldn’t find another way to make something happen that we really felt needed to happen, and it did need to happen. We needed to reduce that predation. And so, that was one area that I thought that, that I wish we could have done–I, even under my tutelage. I thought we could have done a better job. I think that, uh (pause) I think that getting, um (pause) more external science funding into that program would have helped us to move that program more rapidly, and I don’t think we did that.
What do you mean by external science funding? Non-Bureau of Reclamation funding?
Yeah, go to the National Science Foundation, go to, into–eventually that, some of that did. Now, we did that through, extemporaneously by, by going to universities and joint funding programs. But I think that we should have, rather than just bite the bullet and cut back programs, that I think it would’ve given us a lot more information earlier than we got it, if we would have right away, because it’s not as though that wasn’t foreign to me. I, you know, I knew how to do that, as is, I–I think that I should have right away gone that, that I should have gone outside and started pulling in other money. I could have gotten other money through other, you know, the big foundations. And the NSF, and I didn’t do that. So if you’re asking me what I think, there are two things that stand out that I, that I wish I’d have done that I didn’t do was to, was to give a lot more attention to the Native American, uh, issue, um, and to go right away to sources that I knew were available, and get funding to accelerate programs that I thought needed to be accelerated, but instead I, I, you know, I stayed, I stayed within the program funding element of the, of the Bureau.
Now there was some reason–and I’m not going to try to defend myself here, but there was some concern on the part of the, I could have–I approached them about this. And uh, the Adaptive Management Work Group was dubious. They thought if I, if they allowed me to start, if I started doing that, then what would happen would be that that funding would start to modify the direction that they were giving. And it is very true that it probably would have. You know, National Science Foundation, Mellon, they all have specific interests, which they want to fulfill. Those are two areas that I, when I look back, I think I would have been better if I–I’d have been more satisfied if I could have made more progress and I think I could have done that in both cases. I–because I could have pulled a lot of money to the Native American community issues because I did that at NAU. I brought a lot of money to NAU.
Well, last two questions. Are you hopeful about the future of the program, and why or why not?
Yes, I am. Yes, I am. I (pause) I think that Jack did what I did. He had, he took some hits and I took some hits, because we–you had to, you go, as science directors, we [unintelligible] run against the tide, and I was successful and he was successful. So, there was a lot of years separated us. He’s a different kind of a gentleman than I am, that, but I know that he took heat. And I know I, the heat I took, because we took some chances and pushed some pretty heavy water with the adaptive management group. But we got some things done that needed to be done. So there, there was quite a few years between us. I think, um, I think that um, so I still feel that that science director can, if they do their job right, they can, they can make things happen that need to happen. And so I feel good that, that–and I certainly feel that it should continue to go and operate as it has.
It was a worthwhile investment.
Oh, I absolutely, I absolutely think I, I think it is, is–when I look at the money that’s associated with that river, and I’ve looked at that money. All, of all the resources that, that are associated with that river, when you look at the money that’s associated with that, this program costs no money (laughs). This program is a good investment. Because it’s protecting one of the greatest resources of the Southwest. It really is protected, and it’s protecting it by having the interests sit around a table, constantly, and redirect. Very important. I wish, I actually wish all government-based programs were this way, but it’s hard to get that done. Last question?
Yeah. Last question would be, what advice would you give new people joining the adaptive management team? Somebody, you know, because there’s always changes in, uh, those who are representing groups, when somebody new comes in–because one of the things we’re doing in this administrative history program is we’re also putting together an orientation packet for people joining the adaptive management work group. And do you have any advice for somebody coming on new to this program?
Yes I would. Because I think that, one of them would be that they go back and they read Holling’s and Walters’s work.
Because it (pause) these folks had ideology that was foreign to a whole bunch of our management–
Direction on natural resources in the United States. They’re bringing up a whole new way of doing business. And it would be good to go back and read, because it’s fairly clear thinking they provide. I mean, it, it’s, the process itself, um, a lot of people didn’t think it would work. A lot of managers made sure it didn’t work. And uh, I’m sure that happened. And a lot of, lot of managers, hmm, how do I say this? Placated their people who were criticizing them by putting in processes that weren’t really adaptive management science, but said it was.
Do you have a favorite reading in adaptive management by Holling or Walters?
I think, I think Carl’s work on adaptive management is the best one to read. I really do. Because–but Buzz’s is all over that. But I mean this was his, Carl was a protege, but I think Carl’s book is still very appropriate.
And what other advice would you give to somebody new coming on about how to approach their own task and how to think about and understand the process itself? Any other advice?
Yeah, I would (pause) I would advise people to get in to–there were, adaptive management working groups were a very popular thing for a number of years, and it was the thing to do if you were a government agency leader, to at least try that. I would encourage people to require it, I mean, to get involved with their natural resource agencies and, and uh (pause) and require the elements of adaptive management and science to be part of that program. I–to get involved. I think we have a public that’s not very engaged with our natural resources. I really do. I, we got fisheries that are just so endangered, ocean fisheries that, I mean, you know, I mean there are a whole, there are countries that just won’t, I mean, you know.
Well, you mentioned a few people in the interview specifically that you thought were particularly good compromisers, listeners, collaborators. You mentioned Larry Stevens and Kurt Dongoske in particular. What characteristics did they have that made them successful participants, that new participants might try to emulate?
Well, they were well-trained, number one. So they didn’t come to the table uninformed. But they have, they listen.
They talk less and then they listen. When they talk, speak, they’ve listened. And that’s absolutely critical that’s–I mean, Larry and Kurt are very good at that. And so, I (pause) the main thing, though, I think that democracy is great, but it’s difficult. Um (pause) the whole public involvement process, uh, people want action and they’re, they’re hesitant to get involved, but they want action. And I, and to me, because I, I think it’s the way to run, to deal with public goods. Now what we’re talking about, I’m talking about public goods here. I’m talking about public goods. I think that, uh, to best protect the public goods, adaptive management programming as we’ve talked about it as it was applied there, is the way to, is the way to do it. It’s the, absolutely, the way to do it. There are no other way [sic]. Because I worked so long in management of, of, and science related to the management of public goods, and I saw us do so many things that we would not have done and they weren’t necessarily that–I mean we thought they were the right things from the science community base or from management base. (Pause.) But they weren’t my goods. They were the public goods. So, that person over there, that little lady that works all of her life as an accountant, as a CPA, pays her taxes. But she cares that, um (pause) that there’s still open space out here for wildlife to be in. She never gets to partake of it, but the way to protect that is to have some, uh, organizational structure where her viewpoint’s there. And, with everybody else’s, all the other interested parties. That’s the only way to do that. You just can’t turn that over to a scientist or a manager who says, “I know what the problem is here. I know what the answer is here.” No, that’s not the way to do it at all. Just–
Essence of democracy, and it’s messy and slow, but it’s the best option we have.
Messy and slow, and the essence of, the essence of doing good management requires good knowledge all the time. It’s a changing landscape. And so, uh, I’ve, I’ve met so many managers that know the answer, and I have met so many scientists that know the answer, and neither one of them are correct really, in many cases. But if you force them together and then you force the public to be at the table, well, you have a structure that has the public at the table, that’s the way to do business. Public goods. So yeah, that would be–I don’t know how we do that. I’m not a social specialist, so I don’t know how we get people to engage themselves more on the public good. I think if we had a requirement though. So I will say this, and I’m not one for forcing things down people’s throat, but if I think if we had a requirement on every manager of every public resource, that that person put a real adaptive management science program in place, that that would be the way to do it. We don’t have that.
[Speaking simultaneously] You would get more involvement with decision-making.
We do not have that. Yeah. No district forester, no district BLM officer has that over their head. I know that. But I’ll tell you where it does exist, and it works, and that’s with fish and wildlife agencies. I, have you ever participated in Fish and Wildlife?
Yeah, I have a, um, safe harbor agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife service for Chiricahua leopard frog habitat that we, my wife and I created on our property in the Chiricahua mountains. They’re trying to reestablish a metapopulation of the Chiricahua leopard frog, which is an endangered species. And we have a safe harbor agreement. We created a little pond. We got some tadpoles and we raise and try to facilitate, you know, the frog’s dispersal along the, along the creek, and it’s working out pretty good. So, and that’s very collaborative. There’s, you know, private sector, NGOs, federal agencies, state [Arizona Department of] Game and Fish as well as US Fish and Wildlife, and we all work together for this larger good and it, and it gets, you know, it gets everybody involved, including um, you know, people outside the agency itself, collaboration with the private sector is part of that.
Well, many times I’ve sat at Fish and Game meetings. I’m a hunter and a fisher. And I’ve sat at state Fish and Game. State Fish and Game. Not US, but state Fish and Game. And they–so they don’t manage habitat, they manage the wildlife and fish in the habitat.
And so they’re beholding [sic] to. And so they, they have open boards. I mean, you know, you can, I, you, any of us could be on the board.
Game and Fish commissions.
Commissions that are looking at them constantly. They meet with them on a regular schedule. Everything’s posted. They, and they have to respond. They have to respond to that commission. And so, and these are just, this is a rancher like myself, if I can get on a commission. Now [unintelligible] and I think some of the appointments are a little political. But those, that is the closest, as far as agencies–most, most states have those, most states’ Fish and Game–not all–that they follow that model. I don’t see why every public agency couldn’t have a similar-type model. It’s not, it’s not totally adaptive management process, because they do not have a science bureau that they, you know–but they, but they do, they do require, those committees, they require scientific assessments, which their managers do. And uh, so I, I believe that, you know, every BLM and district ranger ought to have that.
Maybe that will become a part of a new mission and a reorganizational strategy for the BLM and the Forest Service, since they’re still casting about for a new identity.
They are, and uh, and they’re suffering.
Both are suffering. So I really believe that, that if they want to, if they want to take a next big step. I know I’ve met with budget chiefs, and I know that I and Jack Ward Thomas just locked horns on a congressional hearing once. And Jack was my good, he’s my good friend still.
You guys were both in forestry schools.
Well, yeah, we were both forestry deans and we both were in the US Forest Service but, but I, I felt that the Forest Service should do that. This was years ago and, and–
He was not ready to embrace adaptive management back in the nineties?
Well, he, he, you’ve got to understand it, he had regional foresters that are close to governors, well, you know, they used to elect the regional forester to governor positions. So. And he had supervisors that, you know, that are connected to the roots of the foundation with their district foresters and, and uh, and besides, he was from the science community. And so Jack couldn’t, uh, you know, it was just hard. It’s hard to put it in–Bureau of Reclamation has the same problem. They would, they would have uh, there’s–things get so politicized. But if, if it’s a cross section of the community, who would argue? Really? But they don’t want to, then when you put that group in, by definition you’re going to listen to them. You put them, you can’t put them there and then not listen to them. Because then you’re in big trouble as a management organization. I think that’s the fear. That that gives, that, that defers too much control from that manager. So–
Yeah, people with authority don’t like to delegate too much if they’re confident that they are good managers and know the right decisions to make. You don’t want to delegate, because it might go a different way that you’re not in control of, and that’s uncomfortable.
But you’re saying democracy is important and these, uh, very diverse deliberative groups coming to slow and sometimes painful decisions is ultimately a better outcome for us, because more people are engaged, more values are being represented and, uh, we’re better integrating public values with science and management.
Well, you, have you studied the Forest Service? [Unintelligible.]
I’ve written a book on the Forest Service.
I mean, since you wrote that book, have you paid attention to it?
Oh, I, kind of–not as much as I did when I was writing about it.
So you are, you were along when we, when we called it, what was it for budgeting? It was called a (pause) they were going to introduce this process for budgeting, which–
Well anyhow, so you know the Forest Service operates on plans. [P.H.: Oh yeah.] Okay. So, they say, “We do involve the public, the public’s involved in the plan.” Do you know the average number of years before a plan is reviewed?
Some ten, fifteen years sometimes, from the beginning of the planning process to an approved federal document.
It’s supposed to be five.
Yeah. They’re supposed to reconsider every five to ten years, and it takes more than ten years just to come up with one (laughs).
Just to come up with a plan so that. So they average—[a bird flies into the window] that’s my poor little bird still trying to get my windows. Well so that–how to correct that one?
That’s an inefficient planning process.
That’s an ineff–a totally inefficient planning process. So you take every district ranger, you give them an adaptive management work group, they develop a plan and then modify it annually.
That’s a really interesting model. I think it, it would be better than what we have now (laughs).
I can tell you, it’d be much better. It really would be. I just know it would be, and I, and uh–I, however, am going to a get a small cabin up in the mountains. Now this, is my next move (laughter).
I still have the passion, but I, but it’s, I tired a lot in the process. [P.H.: Yeah, yeah.] The Healthy Forest Restoration Act. I was one of the key writers on that and it took us nine years: ’96 to 2004. We finally got that thing at five into the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. Couldn’t believe it.
That was an amazing accomplishment.
I’m going to tell you, the only reason that that was accomplished was that [Senator Diane] Feinstein [See annotation for more info] had a 750,000-acre fire over there in California. And she had one good friend in the Senate that flew over there with her. John McCain was his name (laughs). And, and I had worked with John McCain, and–well, I’ve worked with seven bipartisan groups on drafting, out of the House and the Senate, and John was one of those, and, but she was holding it over in the Senate, and it passed at eleven o’clock at night. Now you know how that’s done. They wait, and wait until someone goes to the bathroom (snaps fingers) and that’s how it was done. But she made the call. She and John [McCain] got together and decided on, on it. And I know that, um, that my good friend down in New Mexico was her friend. He was involved, I know, on that phone call. But, I tell [unintelligible] I thought that I was done. If it hadn’t have passed, I was going to give up on the whole thing. You know, we had written so many changes in both the House and the Senate and. And you know what happened then? They didn’t fund it.
Yeah, that’s a big problem. There’s a difference between policy and implementation and–[unintelligible, both talking at once]
It’s called the Budget Committee (laughs). Budget Committee chair changed, and then they didn’t fund it, so. But anyhow, it’s on the books. So by, I hope someday they go back and realize that they need to do a better job. I think that’s a way to do it, by the way. I think that’s the way they do it. Because that’s the way you bring external money and resources in. (Pause.) That’s the way you bring external money and resources in to a local public landscape, is to have that, have that manager engage his publics. [P.H.: Ah, yeah.] And let them be part of the decision process and part of the ongoing management process. Then eventually those people, “Hey, we’ve got some money, we can put it into this. If you don’t have enough money, we can make that happen.” So, it, the vehicle allows that. The vehicle allowed it. It allowed that for me, and I’m, I’ve always looked back and said, but it was because they, you know, they, they were uncomfortable. I actually approached it, because I could have got a big NSF grant on a fish issue and they said, you know, “We’re, we’re afraid that it’s going to–” This should be something that should be, they do it now. It’s done now. But, uh, but at the time I (pause) I could have accelerated a lot of programs. So.
Well, Dave, I think I could sit here and talk with you all day.
So could I, by the way, because it’s bringing back a lot of good memories.
Good. Is there anything, final closing thoughts, you want to add before we turn off the tape recorder?
Well, this. And I think this is a good thing. What, what’s going on. And I remember Larry, you know, this took a while to get the–Larry brought this back and brought this back to get the funding and then. So I think that, uh, I think it will be really good if–how, how is it going to be accomplished? Is it going to be a monograph or is it going to be a, is it going to be both a document that is then cast down into, um, what I call information pamphlets and that sort of thing? How will it be?
So we have–
How will it be distributed?
We have a suite of products that will be in different media, aimed at different audiences, accessible in different ways. [D.G.: That’s great.] I’m going to be writing–Jen and I together will be writing a formal administrative history of the program. 20,000-word manuscript. Probably BOR will publish it. It will be available as a PDF online for free. It might be available as a physical document. I’m hoping so. But um, we’re also going to have a website that will gather together all the historical documents, everything important that was produced over time, key scientific research, a kind of a go-to central place where the history of the program can be researched on a central website. We’re also going to have these thirty, at least thirty oral histories available digitally on that website, and they’ll be indexed, timestamped, and searchable. So if you’re looking for anything that any of these people said about the humpback chub, you can type in “humpback chub” and find every place in every oral history where somebody mentioned the humpback chub. And those, but the full interviews will be up there, but they’ll also be searchable. And anything else? Did I cover it all? That’s the, that’s what we’re producing in this–
Well, that’ll be great, and that’s, because I, I think the more we can get this out–
Oh, and the orientation packet. I mentioned that earlier.
We’ll be putting together a short orientation packet for new people joining the adaptive management team, it’s sort of the quick-and-dirty history of the program and how it’s evolved over time. Who are the key players and how, how do you think about this program that you’re joining so that you can be a productive, collaborative member quickly, rather than having to spend a year figuring things out.
That’ll be good.
Well I, more power to you folks. I really, I–
Thank you, Dave.
I’m glad it’s coming to some fruition and uh, you’re thinking what in the next year or so, somewhere?
We’re two years into it. We’ve got two more years to go. It’s authorized for five, but we’re shooting to try to finish it up in four years.
Okay, good. No, that’ll be great. That’ll be great.
And I’ll, I’ll definitely send you a link with the full recorded interview [D.G.: That’ll be good] and we’ll let you know how, how it evolves over time and when the, you know, when the administrative history manuscript is finished, we’ll send you a PDF and maybe even get some feedback from you.
Well great! That is great. And when you’re going to be visiting a, who is it? Now you’re, Kurt, you’re going to be?
We’re going to interview Kurt Dongoske in Winslow, and before that we’re going to be interviewing Kerry Christensen up in Peach Springs. He works for the Hualapai tribe. A little bit later, earlier next month we’re interviewing Leigh Kuwanwisiwma from the Hopi Tribe. And uh, Mike Yeatts who works with him, the two of them, we may be interviewing together. Bruce Babbitt, hopefully, in September.
That’d be good. I know so many people left and went into consulting, I did too (laughs). But it’s good. It’s a good program. I’m glad to see that it’s happening.
Well, thanks again, and thanks for inviting us to your home.
Thank you very much.
[End of recording]
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- Olathe, CO
Interview conducted by: Dr. Paul Hirt, Arizona State University and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC. Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History Project. Administered by Arizona State University Supported by a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation.
Lawrence David "Dave" Garrett began working with Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt in 1995 to implement adaptive management on the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam. He became Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC) Chief on the Center's official activation in November 1996 and held that position until 1998. Garrett was Dean of the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University from 1984 to 1995. Prior to this he had worked for the U.S. Forest Service for almost twenty years, directing research facilities throughout the country. He was an early supporter of the adaptive management model in state and federal resource management settings.
Suggested Bibliographic Citation
Garrett, Dave. ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW. Transcript of recorded Interview conducted by Paul Hirt, Arizona State University, and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC, on 9 Aug 2018, at Olathe, Colorado. Edited by Paul Hirt and Jennifer Sweeney.