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Press Release


For Immediate Release

November 6, 2005

Contact: Ron Mastrogiuseppe,


Former OSU student awarded for Crater Lake research

By THERESA HOGUE  Corvallis Gazette-Times reporter (August 12, 2002)

Oregon State alum and dedicated researcher Douglas Larson is being recognized for his years of work at Crater Lake, just in time for the centennial celebration of Crater Lake National Park.

Larson's research, mostly done pro bono, led to several changes in the park's relationship with the lake, and to more than a decade of controversy.  Larson will receive the Centennial Award for Excellence in Scientific Research at Crater Lake from the Crater Lake Institute Aug. 11 in an awards ceremony at the Crater Lake Lodge.

Larson completed his doctorate at Oregon State University in 1970, after studying in the Midwest. "I was working at University of North Dakota on my doctorate and I decided I wanted to move west," he said, "because my family was out here." He began communicating with OSU fisheries professor John R. Donaldson, who encouraged Larson to become one of his graduate students.

When Larson arrived at OSU, he joined Donaldson on a research project that spanned several Oregon lakes, including Crater Lake. After graduation, Larson began working for the Army Corps of Engineers, but he continued to be fascinated with Crater Lake, and in 1978 he decided to spend his summers doing volunteer research at the lake.

Larson used vacation time to do research for the National Park Service, using bare-bones techniques and equipment to conduct studies of the lake. "I used to work out of a rubber raft down there," he said. He paid his way each summer, even using his own money to have analysis done on his lab tests. But when he and a colleague discovered that Crater Lake's clarity had changed, they suggested the source of the change was contamination by caused by sewage from the park going into the lake.

"It became quite controversial, and the parks service and I went different ways," Larson said. He said the parks service denied Larson's findings for years, before finally putting in a large pipeline that now pumps sewage away from the lake.

Another result of Larson's work at the lake was the establishment of an ongoing limnological research project at the lake, although Larson is not a part of the project. "From 1902 to 1982, there was no limnological program, nothing to track the lake's condition," Larson said. "Our work led to that."

The controversy surrounding Larson's research at the lake, and subsequent denial by the park, separated Larson from many of his colleagues. "It was rather disappointing," he said. "It came down to between me and the 
parks service a duel to the death."

Despite this, Larson said he's pleased with the current efforts by the park to avert sewage contamination and to continue research into the lake's health.

Larson's research on Crater Lake has been published in several books and journals, and he's currently contributing to a book on the health of lakes near Mt. St. Helens after the volcanic eruptions of 1980, a project he worked on for the Army Corps of Engineers. He said he was surprised by the award, and excited that the Crater Lake Institute has reserved a room at the lodge for he and he and his wife, which he chuckled was not something they could normally afford.

Larson has been retired from the Army Corps of Engineers since 1991 and is an adjunct professor at Portland State University.

Theresa Hogue is the higher education reporter for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 758-9526.

Crater Lake Institute board members: Rod Cranson (geology), John Salinas (chemistry and limnology), Larry Smith (history and education), Dr. Owen Hoffman (environmental sciences and limnology), and Ron Mastrogiuseppe (director of the CLI, ethnobotany) present Dr. Douglas W. Larson (in center, holding award) with the Centennial Award for Excellence in Research at Crater Lake. Photo by Dr. David E. Fields.

On August of 2002, Professor Doug Larson was presented with the Crater Lake Institute's first Award for Excellence in Scientific Research.  It was presented at Crater Lake.

Ron Mastrogiuseppe (Crater Lake Institute director) gives opening comments at the Doug Larson Award Ceremony

Owen H. (Crater Lake Institute board member) presenting award to Doug Larson with John Salinas Crater Lake Institute board member) (at right) looking on.

Crater Lake Institute Board of Directors with Doug Larson, following award ceremony

Crater Lake Institute Board, Doug & Kristy Larson and friends at dinner - CL Lodge following ceremony

Doug & Kristy Larson, Owen Hoffman, Ron Mastrogiuseppe and Rod Cranson at CLI House






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