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."
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.
Hogue is the higher education reporter for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached
by e-mail at email@example.com 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