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Outline of Involvement with MPA

Mount Pisgah Arboretum and

Theodore W. Palmer, An Outline

November 26, 2011

1)   When Mount Pisgah Arboretum was incorporated on January 3, 1973 and until 1990 the legal address of the Arboretum was my house.

2)   My wife, Laramie, and I have been the largest cumulative, financial donors to the Arboretum since 1973.

3)  I can document over 27,000 hours of volunteer work for the Arboretum since 1973.

4)  I have served on the Board of Directors continuously since 1974 except when I was out of town on sabbatical.

5)  I have served as President 5 times (1982, 1983, 1988, 2004 and 2005); Vice-President 4 times, Secretary once, Treasurer 11 times officially and 5 more times, unofficially.

6)  I was the chief fund raiser from 1973 until 1988, and have remained a major fund raiser until the present.

7)  I chaired the Planning Committee which met in the evening monthly from 1973 to about 1990.  I periodically chaired this committee after that.

8) I rented the first post office box on August 21, 1974 which we maintained until May 1988.  I picked up and distributed the mail by bicycle during this whole period except when I was away on sabbatical.

9)  In June 1976 I rented the first portable toilets on site.  At first we paid for them only from May to October.

10)  The Board put me in charge of the site on June 15, 1978 and I retained this responsibility formally until 1974.  I retained it unofficially or by re-appointment most of the time until 2003.

11)  From 1978 until the present I have almost continuously chaired the Site Committee, which was the main executive body for the site.

12)  I supervised the change of name from International Arboretum Association. to Mount Pisgah Arboretum.  The Board voted for the change on July 28, 1978 after 79% of our members returned their mail ballots voting 4 to 1 in favor of the change.

13)  During 1978 and 1979, I supervised the completion of the Zig-Zag, Plateau, South Boundary (now Jette) and Eight Foot Trail (now Bufords’ Trail).  These already existed as primitive foot paths.  They were not surfaced with wood chips until Dave Wagner became President in 1980

14)  I became Treasurer on January 1, 1979 because our previous treasurer had never been able to deliver a coherent report.  I was given a big ledger with completely random entries (which I have preserved) and a large cardboard box with many hundreds of pieces of paper loosely tossed into it.  In those days I only needed 4 or 5 hours of sleep, so I spent many months from about 11:00 pm to about 2:00 am sorting through these bits of paper.  To my amazement, it turned out that everything had been preserved, so I was able to reconstruct a complete financial record for the Arboretum.  Inevitably there were inconsistencies between the meeting minutes and these reconstructed financial records.

15)  In August 1979 I hired Tom LoCascio to work at the Arboretum until that CETA grant expired in September.  Over the next year and a half, as a volunteer, he helped me with his dump truck at the Arboretum about four times.  In March 1981, when I had finally raised enough money to hire a full time employee and when we had finally gotten the house on site assigned to us (promised in 1973), I was on the five person committee that unanimously chose to hire him from among 55 applicants.  He began work on April 1 and is still employed by the Arboretum and living in the house on-site.

16)  In 1980 I convinced the Donald R. Barker Foundation to give us the first of several annual $10,000 grants and in 1981 with the help of our mutual friend, Ken Ghent, I convinced Bill and Barbara Bowerman to give the first of several $5,000 gifts of Nike stock.  Both were unrestricted so we could use them for operating support.

17)  In March 1980 I designed and built the bridge for the Riverbank Trail.  (All subsequent MPA bridges except the Adkison Bridge have been built from my design.)  With strong Board support I reversed George Jette’s idea of moving the Meadow Road next to the River.  Instead I staked the Riverbank Trail there.  After Tom was hired, we built this trail together.

18)  After Tom McCall died l convinced the Board to rename this trail the Tom McCall Riverbank Trail.  I was sorry to be away on June 5, 1983 for the naming ceremony involving Tom’s widow Audrey, Governor Vic Atiyah and many local dignitaries.

19)  I was not in charge but was instrumental in planning and setting up our first Wildflower Festival on May 18, 1980 and our first Mushroom Festival on October 31, 1982.

20)  In 1980 I designed and staked the Upper Bowl Road.  I finally supervised its building in September 1982.

21)  In March 1981 I initiated regular weekend work parties.  I continued to supervise them until about 2003.

22)  During the winter of 1981-82 I designed and staked the Incense Cedar   Great Meadow,  Fawn Lily and Hillside Trails.  As I built a primitive version of the Incense Cedar trail I discovered fairy calypso (Calypso bulbosa) growing profusely along its middle stretch.  This was at the top of a list of plant species Dave Wagner had made which he hoped we would find growing on site.   Boy Scout troops and others helped Tom and me gradually bring these trails up to our agreed standard.

23)  During the last months of Patricia Baker’s life I negotiated with her husband Ted Baker about her desire for a wildflower garden at the Arboretum as a memorial.  When she died, MPA received well over $25,000 for this purpose.  I was away on sabbatical during the time the garden was designed, but I supervised building the trails when I returned.

24)  I made all the arrangements for the Marine Corps Reserve unit under the command of Captain Holmquist to build the 96 foot long Vern Adkison Bridge across the Water Garden, but left on sabbatical just before they finished the project on June 11, 1983.

25)  While I was away on sabbatical, the two recently completed causeways in the Water Garden floated in a large flood as I had said they would.  Since there is very little current in the Water Garden during flood events, Tom and Captain Holmquist managed to tie them to trees and pull them back so that they settled approximately where they had been built.  In the spring the Marines put them back exactly where they should be.  When I returned, I calculated their buoyancy and (with help) obtained enough railroad rails to overcome it.  Tom, Rob O’Connor and I put the rails in place.

26)  In the summer of 1984 I built the new entrance bridge almost single handedly using Howard Buford’s design.

27)  In 1984 and 1985 I designed and built the Connector and Cross Meadow Trails.

28)  In the summer of 1985 I designed and built the large kiosk between the parking lot and my new entrance bridge.

29)  I designed and built the Tree Round exhibit finishing in May 1986.  Tom had secured the one ton, seven foot diameter, 451 year old slab from Pete DiPaolo.

30)  In 1986, through a former UofO PhD student in mathematics, I secured a grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust to construct the rest room building.  It was designed by Tex Matsler but our volunteer crew (without my help) took two years to finish it.

31)  In August 1986 I buried and supervised the burying of a high voltage line to the barn and various other electric lines within the site.  The cost of this work was donated by Ray and Lois Johnson.

32)  From 1986 through 2003 (18 times) my wife Laramie and I had a huge MPA garage Sale at our house.  After the first few years, set-up took a month when we gave over our garage back and side yards to a host of volunteers.  The sale averaged about $5,000 per year with over a hundred people in line when we let them in.

33)  Starting in 1986 and extending to 2010 I designed and built 9 benches (Tinker, Scherer, Dubs, Tattersall, Martin, Love, Kemler, Phillips and Palmer) by myself.  I also had a substantial role in building (or in one case rebuilding) 6 more (Whitbread, Duncan, McCulley, Crowley, Burtner and Tepfer).  33)  With Chuck Duncan I successfully solicited office space for MPA in the office building being constructed by EPUD.  MPA occupied these beautiful offices from May 1988 until May 2002.

34)  With others I successfully convinced Lane County to make a monthly payment beginning July 1, 1988 for the services MPA provided outside our lease area.

35) I secured agreement from Lane County and Bonneville Power Administration to build parking lots north of MPA’s then current boundaries and within the Bonneville easement.   I acted as chief engineer during the work periods from 1985 to 1988 as the Marine Corps Reserve under Captain Holmquist slowly constructed them as a training exercise.  My friend and neighbor Don Peel helped me survey the design by George Jette repeatedly since the unskilled Marines routinely knocked over our grade and slope stakes.  The project was finally finished to a useable condition just before the Mushroom Festival with help from Tom and a local cattle man who briefly brought his own small cat tractor.  Tom and I finally finished detailed work including several French drains before the 1990 Wildflower Festival

36)  On November 19, 1988  I organized and led the first annual MPA retreat.

37) Tom Balzhiser (President of MPA in 1989, 1990 and 1991) led the Four year Master Planning effort, but I played a leading role.  The final result was presented in September 1993.

38) In 1991 I designed the East Boundary Trail.  The Site Overview Committee toured and approved it.  (Tom LoCascio claims not to recall this.)  Later I built a primitive version of it that received a lot of use for awhile.  The trail makes available botanical and scenic elements not visible by any other existing or proposed trail.  When our boundary is expanded uphill on the east, this trail could be revised, but when I staked the proposed new boundary I considered this possibility and felt no change was an improvement.

39)  In 1993, along with others, I led the nationwide search for an Arboretum Director.  Our first choice accepted but then had to withdraw because of his wife’s cancer.  I regret to say that I supported the decision to hire our second choice who turned out to be a disaster.

40)  On my 60th birthday in 1995 I held the first of 13 birthday work parties at the Arboretum. These have attracted more than $50,000 in donations and several of them have attracted large groups of friends who have completed important projects.

42)  In June 1996 I finished a three year project to clear the Plateau of broom, blackberries and poison oak.

43)  I researched and drew the boundaries for our enlarged lease in 1991,  My boundaries were used except for two changes when I signed the new lease on September 16, 1996.  Without any pressure from Lane County we changed the east boundary from the 800 foot contour to the 765 foot contour.  Also a very small area was removed near the north west corner because the County then believed it would be used when the new Coast Fork Bridge was built.

44)  On December 16, 1996 I published the first edition of the 11 x 17 inch MPA atlas, containing aerial photos from 1936 to 1996  reproduced at two scales , contour maps, trail maps and substantial history of the site.

45)  The small causeway in the Water Garden had enough weight to over-come its buoyancy, but the weight was distributed in three rails: 2 on one side and 1 on the other.  On November 18, 1996 the largest flood MPA has ever experienced tipped the causeway over so the rails slid off.  As the flood drained the current carried this causeway about 150 feet downstream.  I designed a way to embed the three rails into new concrete bridge piers under the deck, and built this.  On May 3, 1997 Bob Dickson, Tom, Rob and I pulled the causeway on rollers back into place and cabled it to the steel rails.

46)  In 1997 a large birthday work party completed the Upper Plateau Trail.  At the same time I designed and largely built the Burtner Bench Trail.

47)  The roof of the silo next to the Great Meadow Barn had already collapsed when  the Arboretum began.  In 1997 the Site Overview Committee decided that it should be re-roofed.  I designed a conical roof and cut out all the pieces in my home shop.  The roof was installed with much help from Tom, Rob, and others including the son of the man who had built the silo in 1947 whom I had located.   We finished on July 12, 1998.

48)  In the fall of 1998, Rob O’Connor and I cleared the old Bonneville roads (newly included in the MPA lease area) of blackberries, poison oak and broom.

49)  On September 30, 1998 I completed building the David Douglas Monument alone.  I had designed it and lobbied for its construction.

50)   In early October 1998, I built the small kiosk in one day (on which I also chaired an acrimonious public meeting of about 300 people at the UofO).  I had designed this building months earlier and been told it would not be needed right away but the previous evening I was told it should be ready the next day.  I bought materials early and then finished after dark.

51)  From 1999 through September 25, 2004, I cleared, surveyed and staked the entire MPA boundary.  Various people acted as rod men while I surveyed.

52)  On August 26, 1999 while I was in Alaska a fire burned 123 acres in the Upper Bowl within the Arboretum.    When I returned I began to dig out the poison oak and blackberry roots exposed by the fire. In December somehow I contracted a mysterious double pneumonia which put me in Intensive Care for ten days during which the doctors did not expect me to recover.  However I did and managed to clear the whole area by the next summer.  I had only seriously begun clearing the Upper Bowl in the spring of 1997.  The fire was a huge help.

53) In August, 2000 I cleared the hillside above the entrance road of blackberries, broom and poison oak for the first time,  I have kept it clear for all but four years since then.  I missed one year due to illness and three others (including the last two) because the brush mowers were not kept in working order.

54)  In 2001 I chaired the committee which decided where to build the new MPA Office designed by Jonathan Stafford.   I installed the concrete footings for it and laer helped with its construction to a small degree.  I designed, sited and largely built the nearby restroom building.

55)  In 2001 I designed the trail (which the County later named for me) within the Arboretum,.  Outside the Arboretum others did most of the design work although I was involved.

56)  In 2003 I designed the Bob Dickson Shop in the south west corner of the Great Meadow Barn and supervised the removal of the old primitive concrete floor in preparation for pouring a new floor.  After the new floor was poured I built the insulated shop with some help from other people finishing on November 1, 2005.

57)  In 2003, after hundreds of hours of study, I designed a three trail system to make the Upper Bowl accessible.  Only one of these trails has been built so far: the Oak Savanna Trail.

58)  In 2003 and 2004 Rob O’Connor and I built the 900 square foot lean to on the east side of the barn following plans drawn by Bob Dickson.

59)  A windstorm in November 2003 blew the 30 foot tall redwood silo next to the Great Meadow Barn off its foundation.  With help from Rob O’Connor, I levered it back plum.  This revealed that the reason the concrete ring on which it had stood was broken into many piece was that the ring had no rebar and no connection to the concrete slab underneath.  Thus I had to  lift the silo another few inches and take out the pieces of the old ring. I drilled the slab about every 3 feet and used epoxy glue to fix short pieces of all thread bolts into the holes.  Then I built a 41 foot circumference circular form and poured concrete to enclose a circular ring of rebar and all but the tops of the vertical bolts.  Since the original redwood sill and about the bottom 18” of most of the 41 upright red wood 2 x 4s were rotten,  I constructed a new pressure treated sill, and sandwiched each vertical 2 x 4 between two new cedar ones.

60)  In 2004 I largely finished a three year effort to clear the upper bowl of undesirable vegetation.

61)  On January 11, 2006 I completed remodeling a room over my garage as an Archive for Mount Pisgah Arboretum.  I furnished it with nine file cabinets with hanging files, nine large bookcases two desks and two work tables.  I filed most of the old Arboretum papers in hanging files and tried to sort out the most important.  I filed all copies of the news letter (Tree Talk, later Tree Time) and put two sets into loose leaf notebooks.  Dorothy Anderson sorted all Board and Executive Committee Minutes and put them in notebooks.

62)  On September 17, 2007 I supervised digging the water pipe and electric cable ditch from our new well in the South Meadow to the Arboretum since no advance preparation had been done.  This was not Tom’s fault and he was supervising other work that day.

63)  I designed and built a pump house and an equipment shed over the new buried  3,000 gallon , concrete, underground tank for the new water system.

64)  With Jim Marshall, I played a leading role in twice assembling the replacement for the Adkison Bridge designed by Jonathan Stafford.

65)  On October 24, 2011 I finally completely finished the Oak Savanna Trail.  It was my design and 80% my work.

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