Bill Hagenstein

Bill Hagenstein at Camp 18, Tillamook County, May 22, 2003 (from videotaped interview by Mike McMurray).

" . . . roll up our sleeves and do it--just like that." (from: The Future)

Bill Hagenstein is 90 years old as this is being written, and has arguably been the most knowledgeable and experienced representative of industrial forestry in the western United States over the past 50 years. He has developed a regional and national reputation during that time as one of the single most influential people in helping to enact legislation to promote scientific forest managment of private forest lands, represent forest industry interests, promote fire protection, improve reforestation, and--in general--tell "the big story" perhaps better than any other person of his generation.

Bill Hagenstein discusses his thoughts on forest management and fire prevention with forest scientists Benjamin Stout and Kermit Cromack on a September 15, 2004 field trip to the B&B Complex. Photograph by Brett Morrissette (USDA Pacific Northwest Research Station).

This website features Hagenstein's participation in a field trip to the B&B Complex on September 15, 2004 and his transcribed May 22, 2003 videotaped interview with Mike McMurray. Additional materials are also being prepared for this profile, including recent videotaped and recorded interviews, photographs, transcriptions, and a selection of Hagenstein's speeches and writings.

Among Hagenstein's many accomplishments while holding principal positions with the IFA (Industrial Forestry Association), Keep Oregon Green Association, Forest History Society, Society of American Foresters, and other regional and national organizations, is the fact that during all of his decades of service and leadership to these organizations from 1948 until 1982, not a single catastrophic fire occurred in Oregon. Several catastrophic windstorms, floods, and insect outbreaks did occur during his professional service, however, and his generation of foresters began their careers in the snags of the 1910 fires and the Tillamook Burn. Each of these catastrophes was dealt with quickly and efficiently, using the best avaialble science and technology of those times. Bill would likely claim that his was a direct result of good fire protection policy, good forest management practices, and good forest science, as practiced by a skilled and able workforce of forest scientists, professional foresters, loggers, reforesters, millworkers, and wildlife managers.

September 15, 2004 Field Trip

The western shore of Round Lake on the day of the tour shows a significant amount of greening (mostly with bracken fern, wildflowers, and bunch grasses) since panoramic documentation for this location was started on May 15, 2004. Photograph by Brett Morrissette (PNW Research Station).
Hagenstein examines historical maps of the Round Lake area with (clockwise from foreground): Kermit Cromack, Jim Peterson, Benjamin Stout, Bill Hagenstein, Bob Zybach, Wayne Giesy, and Nana Lapham (not shown: Mike McMurray). Photograph by Brett Morrissette (PNW Research Station).

May 22, 2003 Oral History Interview

Hagenstein took part in a videotaped interview with Mike McMurray, of Mike McMurray's Forestry Photography, on May 22, 2003; just three months before the B&B Complex Fire got started. The interview took place at Camp 18, in the northwestern portion of the old Tillamook Burn. It is part of a series of videotaped oral history interviews that McMurray has been conducting with Hagenstein and other historical members of the Pacific Northwest forest community over the past few years.

The following videotape files were made from germane excerpts of the interview and have been edited and formatted for Internet display by Josh Meredith, of Josh MeredithDot Com. The topics of the interview are timely and specific to the issues and management problems surrounding the B&B Complex, as well as other areas of the western United States that have been impacted with catastrophic insect and wildfire events in recent years. Hagenstein's comments, observations, and recommendations have been representative of the forest industry for the past half century, and are organized along the general themes of forest policy, forest management, and catastrophic wildfire management.

Transcript: A complete transcript of the videotape extracts of the interview can be found at this address: Bill_Hagenstein/Videos_20030522/Transcripts.html

Parent and Teacher Advisory: Hagenstein has a tendency to use occasional mild profanity when he speaks. We have made the decision to not edit any of his comments, in order to retain as much of the color and context of his answers as possible. You may want to consult the transcript (see above) before recommending certain files to younger students.

Forest Policy

Federal Policy and Fire Suppression History. The story of Bill Greeley, formation of the US Forest Service, and beginning of national fire suppression policy: ". . . if these men, the generation before mine, hadn’t really tried to get after the fire problem we wouldn’t have nearly the amount of forest land that we have in the United States today." 27 mb. 3:50 min. Transcript.

Effects of Forest Management Policies. The effects of forest policy changes can be seen in recent forest management problems: "And the National Environmental Policy Act gives the people that are anti-forestry folks an opportunity to appeal anything that any public agency wants to do on the land." 21 mb. 2:58 min. Transcript.

Northwest Forest Plan. Perceived negative effects of the Northwest Forest Plan on the economy and ecology of northwest forests: "And that’s why we need to have a redetermination of what is the forest policy in the United States." 14 mb. 2:03 min. Transcript.

New Forest Policy Needed. Hagenstein speaks of national forests in terms of renewable resources and crops, and critical problems for managers: "Theye’re subject to an appeal procedure that will absolutely stop any agency from doing the kind of job that the people are trained by our forestry schools [to do]." 13 mb. 1:53 min. Transcript.

The Future. Hagenstein talks about the future of forest and wildlife management, the role of education, and managing catastrophic wildfires: "You don’t have to practice wildlife management and forest management as exclusive of one another; you practice them together." 23 mb. 3:16 min. Transcript.

Forest Management

Clearcuts and Selective Cuts. Hagenstein discusses clearcuts as the preferred method of managing Douglas-fir, and the selective removal of old and dying trees in eastside yellow pine forests: "Now clearcutting should be done in such a way that you don’t create a mess with it." 13 mb. 1:52 min. Transcript.

Spruce Budworm Outbreak: 1948-1951. Hagenstein organized the Spruce Budworm Action Committee in 1949. The committee sucessfully eliminated the budworm by spraying five million acres of infested forests, but at a cost of several pilots' lives: "We sprayed in there and they never came back." 17 mb. 2:26 min. Transcript.

1951 Blow Down and the Columbus Day Storm. The forest industry, working in cooperation with several other organizations, responded quickly to the catastrophic windstorms of 1951 and the infamous Columbus Day Storm of 1962: “Beat the Beetles; Reduce the Fire Hazard; Save the Wood.” 23 mb. 3:22 min. Transcript.

Lawyers and Foresters. Hagenstein discusses how appeals are made through the Environmental Protection Act, and how the legal profession is able to make forest management decisions in court that over-rule foresters: "A lot of us in forestry are often accused of trying to practice law without a license, but we know it’s illegal, so we don’t." 10 mb. 1:27 min. Transcript.

Forest Wildfire Prevention

Fire Suppression as Cause of Forest Fires. Hagenstein discusses the reasons and outcomes of past fire protection practices, and the results that we've seen as a consequence of no fire protection: "So anybody who says that we set the stage for fires that occurred the last two to three years because we prevented fires and fought fires in the early days, really don’t know what they’re talking about." 12 mb 1:44 min. Transcript.

Snags As Cause of Forest Fires. Hagenstein believes that we have not been doing a good job of "cleaning up our messes" left from beetles, blow-downs, and fires: "And believe you me; we need to clean up those messes. If we don’t we’re going to have more disastrous fires." 12 mb 1:44 min. Transcript.

Fire Prevention and Snag Management. Hagenstein talks about the ecology and economics involved in snag removal, and the inevitable growth of shade tolerant understory species: "Dead trees are the worst hazard we’ve got. Get them out of the woods, get them out of there." 8 mb. 1:14 min. Transcript.

Wilderness Policy and Snag Management. The Ventana Fire that occurred in a California Wilderness in the 1970's, Hagenstein says, could have been less severe had they used mechanical equipment sooner: "That’s one of the big problems of Wilderness areas, is there’s no roads in them." 23 mb. 2:10 min. Transcript.

Public Outreach and Forest Management. People in urban areas need to realize the importance of our resources and where their real wealth comes from: "Real wealth comes from the land, the air, or the sea. That’s where it all comes from." 9 mb 1:22 min. Transcript.

2004 Oregon Websites & Watersheds Project, Inc.