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1 INTERVIEW WITH JOHN GOTTSCHALK BY ARDEN TRANDAHL MARCH 14, 1996 MR. TRANDAHL: It’s March 14, 1996. I am in Arlington, Virginia with John Gottschalk. John Gottschalk has a long history with the Fish and Wildlife Service. I guess I forgot to state my name. But I am Arden Trandahl from the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery in Spearfish, South Dakota. We are compiling a series of videotapes of people, and personalities that have influenced the Fish and Wildlife Service. We are compiling a library that will be available for historians, educators, and students. John Gottschalk served as the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. He has been involved with many, many things that had a national and significant impact on the resources in the United States, and in the Fish and Wildlife Service in particular. Today we are going to try to focus a little bit on the John’s background and the Fish and Wildlife Service and what he can tell us. I’m sure that he has a lot of very good information that will be of a great deal of interest to historians, long after John and I are both gone. John I am so pleased that you consented to give us some of your time here today. MR. GOTTSCHALK: If there’s anything that a retired person has, it’s supposed to be time. I am happy to do this Arden. I think it is very important, really, that some of these ideas, and the history gets put on the record somehow. As I look back, I feel that one of the things that I didn’t push hard enough for was to set up a system of making a historical record of the things that happened in the Fish and Wildlife Service. I didn’t appreciate how important that was until a little later. But I have subsequently learned that some of the agencies have detailed histories, and have spent a lot of time on them. If historians do it properly, it can be of immense value. So I appreciate what you are doing. I am sure that this is not going to be earthshaking, but could be of some interest to someone, somewhere down the line. I am glad to do it. MR. TRANDAHL: I appreciate your reference to historians. I guess I am a kind of an informal historian. It so happened that during my time with the Fish and Wildlife Service I’ve taken a great deal of interest in history. I have had the opportunity in the last several years to be involved in doing something that will probably never happen in the Fish and Wildlife Service again. That’s at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery where we secured almost four million dollars to rehab the facility. And to build a National Fisheries records and archive facility where tapes such as yours will be. We have a significant number of items, some of which you have contributed. Artifacts and items are coming from all over the country. They will be a focal point of history for the Fish and Wildlife Service. I mentioned Fisheries history, but it’s really been interesting in the last couple of years, because there has been interest within the other elements of the Fish and Wildlife Service of placing their historical items there. So it may be a national center for refuge materials and ecological services, or the old River Basin stuff. It’s really exciting to be involved in it here. I guess that’s enough of my “commercial” there for the facility, John. I’d like to ask you where you were born, and give us a little background on your family if you will. 2 MR. GOTTSCHALK: My wife and I were both born in Berne, Indiana. B-E-R-N-E. That may suggest that this was a Swiss community, and it certainly was. The people who moved there back in the middle 1800s were from the Pantune Berne in Switzerland. It was a Swiss Mennonite community. It happens that my particular family, were not members of that faith. My maternal grandfather, my mother’s father was an avid fisherman. In fact, there were several right there in our community and it’s a little ironic that we didn’t have any good water around there at all. We had the Wabash River, which by that time was a ditch. That was about it, besides gravel pits, and stone quarries. Every summer we would go over to Grand Lake, which was a reservoir on the old Lake Erie- Ohio River canal system which was built back in the early 1800s. It was ten miles, by five miles long. That was the place were we would go fishing and camping every summer with the family. Dad would crank up the old truck, and we would take a tent. About that time, I got interested in fish and fishing with the help of my grandfather. He used to like to take me along when I was eight or nine years old. I would do “flunky” work for him. I had to row the boat while he was trawling for pike up in some of the northern Indiana lakes. But I never thought about fishing or fisheries as a career. I was always interested, and after I graduated from High School, I got a degree in Biology from Irwin College in Richmond, Indiana. That was in 1934. I had worked in the State Parks system, and right after I graduated, I immediately got a job as a Park Naturalist at the Turkey Run State Park, in western Indiana. After a few months, I was transferred to the full-time educational bureau, or force, working in southern Indiana. I was giving lectures as schools and service clubs, and organizing conservation clubs and whatnot. Then in 1937, the then Director of Fisheries, we called him the “Superintendent of Fisheries”, in Indiana wanted to go to a different job. I’m not going to give you all of the detailed background, but he was really a writer, and an editor. And he had managed some fishponds while President of a Fish and Game club up in Huntington, Indiana. So he wasn’t really into it. I was a person with a biological degree, and our director came around, and said, “John, we need to make a change, and how would you like to serve for a year as Abe’s assistant, and see if you want to be Chief of Fisheries”? Well, that sounded like what I had always been looking for and it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity. I took over as Superintendent of Fisheries in Indiana in 1938. I was twenty-five years old. At that time we had five hatcheries. And while I was Superintendent, it was during the WPA days during the Depression. There was a lot of opportunities for building things. As I recall, we built three new Hatcheries during that period. I cut my teeth in the Fish Hatchery business in Indiana, in those days. Functionally, I was really the Chief of Hatcheries because the research aspect, and biological survey work was being done by Indiana University. The professor of Limnology, which is of course, the study of freshwater lakes and streams, was automatically the director of our Fishery Research program. In 1938, that was Dr. W. E. Ricker, who was for a long time prominent in Fisheries activities. He was a scientist in Canada, and was the first recipient of the Outstanding Fisheries Award, of the American Fishery Society. I think that was back in 1969. In any event, he was my major professor, and he made a profound impression on me as I worked with him. I watched him forming a program, and focused on what was important. In those days, I would have to say that our work was pretty primitive. We had nobody who was looking at hatchery production and operation from a scientific standpoint. The first thing I did was to say that we needed better control of 3 what we were doing. I found that we didn’t have any maps. We had no materials that gave us the areas of our ponds. We had no basis for estimating production from our ponds except for counting the numbers of fish that came out of the ponds. Nor did we have any “production per acre” ability. So the first thing I did was to organize a mapping program. We found out that three of the hatcheries weren’t even on State land! We had to get busy and condemn the ponds that we had been using for years. People had given them to us, but had kept the titles. I didn’t even know that! That’s just a little sideline. But in 1941, I realized that if I wanted to progress in the profession, I needed a little more graduate work. I quit my job as Superintendent of Fisheries in Indiana and went to graduate school under Dr. Ricker. I won’t go into the War years, but I got a master’s degree, and was working on my Ph. D. when I left the University and worked in a Penicillin plant for three years during the tail end of the war. But immediately after, I got a job with River Basin studies in the Fish and Wildlife Service. This was a program that was designed to give us information about the character of streams that might be dammed. Or that might be affected by irrigation projects, and also, the reservoirs that might be created under what was called the Pick-Sloan Plan, in the Missouri River Basin. Several hundred dams were built under this program, and our job was to go out and look at the area from both the Fish and Wildlife standpoint, to determine what was there, and to see if we could estimate what would be the impact of this sort of development. We were also to see what we could recommend in the way of improving fishing after those projects had been completed. MR. TRANDAHL: What year was it that you came to the Fish and Wildlife Service? MR. GOTTSCHALK: I went to work for the Fish and Wildlife Service in the fall of 1945. MR. TRANDAHL: In 1945, right after the war? MR. GOTTSCHALK: Right after the war. As soon as the Penicillin, I should say, as soon as the War Production Board, or the War Manpower Commission, which controlled where you worked in those days. As soon as I got permission to leave Schendly, which had a very high priority, making Penicillin, instead of whisky, I might add. As soon as I got permission to leave, I went to work for the Fish and Wildlife Service. And that was in September of 1945. I worked out of Billings. We had a very interesting program that had nothing to do per say with hatcheries. It resulted in the construction of some hatcheries as mitigation for losses that were incurred as a result of the construction of these dams and irrigation projects. One of them that I specifically had a hand in was the one below Fort Randall. After that, I came to Washington as the first chief of the so-called Digelow-Johnson program. That was in 1951. This is the program that took the excise tax on sport fishing tackle and returned it to the states on a matching basis. There were three federal dollars for every state dollar to try to restore public fishing in America. I remained in the Program until the reorganization of the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1956. In 1957, I became the first chief of the Division of Sport Fisheries. In that capacity, I was responsible for the hatchery program, the management program, and for the research program having to do with sport fishing. 4 MR. TRANDAHL: Who were some of the other people you worked with at that time? MR. GOTTSCHALK: Well, let’s start at the top: Daniel Jansen was the Director. He was appointed Director after we reorganized. I won’t go into all of the history before that, some of it was quite interesting. But Dan Jansen came in from Minneapolis where he had been Regional Director. A. B. Tunnison . “Abe” Tunnison was hired as an Assistant Director. Abe had come from New York where he was very prominent in the Fish to Seas, and Nutrition studies. Particularly the Nutrition studies in Courtland where we finally established, and I hope is still, a very fine laboratory. Abe was the Assistant Director for Fisheries. Dr. Cottam was a wildlife expert, and he was the Assistant Director for Wildlife. I was the Chief of the Division of Sport Fisheries. And there was a man named Paul Quick, who later became the Regional Director in Portland, Oregon who was the Chief of the Division of Wildlife Resources. I would have to say that that was the best job I ever had. I really enjoyed it. I got to travel around. And at one time, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say, that I knew every state fisheries biologist and every Chief of Fisheries in the United States. I was able to work with them through the American Fisheries Society, among other things. I was active in the Society, and was President in 1964. That made a wonderful combination: Being the Chief of the Division of Sport Fisheries and President of the American Fisheries Society. I have always considered the Society sort of my professional home. I worked with the Society in many capacities over the years. I still sit in for Paul Bruehaugh, the Executive Director when he is busy doing something else, at meetings. I attend to a little bit of the Society’s business from time to time. MR. TRANDAHL: You’ve been in the Society for what, fifty years or close to it? Probably? MR. GOTTSCHALK: What’s this 1996? Well, in two more years, I will have been a member of the Society for sixty years. MR. TRANDAHL: Sixty years! MR. GOTTSCHALK: I attended my first meeting of the Society in Ashville, North Carolina in 1938. It was a very inspirational event for me to be able to sit there and listen to men like H. S. Davis, who was a great Trout fisheries disease specialist, who was located at Leightown. And William Adams, the Director of the New York department just gave a wonderful speech down there that was so stimulating. He was advocating higher professional standards for people in conservation: better education and better training in general. It was a wonderful event, and I got to every meeting that I could get to after that. Well, let me say that I had just got started at the job of being the Chief of the Division of Sport Fisheries: William Hagan, “Bill” Hagan was in charge of Fish Hatcheries at that time. Dr. Willis King was in charge of Fisheries Management Services and Paul Thompson was in charge of Fishery Research. All three of these were parts of the Division of Fishery Management. There were four fisheries. I worked very closely with these people. Of course, Abe Tunnison had a background in fisheries, and he was my “contact” you might say, at the Director’s level. I always felt that that was not only 5 my best job, but I had more fun, and we did more constructive things there in just a few years, than any other job I ever got into. But, things change. The Director, Dan Jansen came around one day and put his head in my office. He said, “John, Rodney Bascal the Regional Director in Boston is leaving his job and we are looking for someone to take his place. We’d like you to go to Boston and be the Regional Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service for the northeastern states”. MR. TRANDAHL: What year was that? MR. GOTTSCHALK: That would have been in 1959. I said, “Oh, Dan, I hate to think about giving up my job, it’s a wonderful job, and I love what I’m doing and I don’t want to give it up. But I work for you, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, and if that’s what you want me to do, I’ll do it”. So we moved to Boston, and had a very interesting time there. I’d almost have to say that in a real history, you’d get into some of the problems that I encountered when I got up to Boston. The administrative machinery up there had gone to pot. It was a real hard job to pull everything back together and get that organization going again. But it worked, and in 1964 when the Director, Dan Jansen decided to retire, “Stu” Udall, called up of all people, Ira Gabrielson. Ira was the first Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service after the Bureau of Fisheries from Commerce, and the Bureau of Biological Survey from Agriculture, were combined to make the Fish and Wildlife Service. At that time Ira was President of the Wildlife Management Institute. MR. TRANDAHL: Was Stewart the Secretary of the Interior at that time? MR. GOTTSCHALK: Steward Udall was Secretary of the Interior, and he called Ira, and said, “Ira, I’m looking for someone to take Dan Jansen’s place. Of all of the Regional Directors, which one do you think would be the best? Because I want to promote from within the organization”. Ira gave me a flattering recommendation. So then, he called Eschmeier, who was head of the Sport Fishing Institute, and asked the same question. Eschmeier said, “No question about it, John Gottschalk”. So with those two recommendations, Udall called me to Washington, and in effect, said, “I’d like to have you be the Director”. That was in 1964. I came to Washington in October of 1964 and fortunately had had the experience in Boston, of working over all of the Services programs. In that region we had wildlife research activities, fishery research activities, wildlife refuges, animal control and all of the other things that I had really no experience with. And that was wonderful training. When I came to Washington, it was kind of a bad time because the Vietnam War was just getting going. Even though President Johnson said that the Nation could afford “guns and butter”, I’ve always said, “ He got the guns, but he got my butter in the process”! MR. TRANDAHL: Now this is 1964 we’re talking about? MR. GOTTSCHALK: Right. We suffered. We were given ten million dollars to start construction of a National Fish Hatchery. No, not a National Fish Hatchery, I’m sorry, it 6 was a National Aquarium. It was supposed to be a Fish and Wildlife, National Aquarium. We had the plans all built. MR. TRANDAHL: You were involved with Bill Hagan on that. MR. GOTTSCHALK: Oh, absolutely. MR. TRANDAHL: Bill was quite and advocate, and worked hard on that too didn’t he? MR. GOTTSCHALK: Bill was the principal person within the Fish and Wildlife Service working on the Hatchery program. And after we got the authorization, and got the money: he actually transferred out of Hatcheries into a small office to work exclusively on the Aquarium project. But as it turns out, the Aquarium became the focus of a lot of adverse criticism. The Washington Post called it “Congressman Kervan’s goldfish bowl”. There was a big demonstration of homeless people, and anti-war people in Washington. The whole country was full of unrest because of the Vietnam War. We were not given any money to increase our budget at all for regular operations. In fact, we kept being trimmed down. I was called in on the very day that I was having my first meeting with all of the regional people, at our annual conference: I was called out by the Assistant Secretary and told that we had to find ten hatcheries, and ten refuges that we could close, so that we could save some money. I won’t go into why that happened, that’s a story in itself. But the budget situation was very, very bad in those days, and we suffered. We had that ten million dollars in construction money and each year we went to the bureau of the budget and got some of that money reprogrammed over into operations. Because we had a tremendous amount of what you might call “social” programs that we had gotten into. We had the Job Corps, we had the Equal Opportunity programs we got no additional money for that. So we took it out of the Aquarium. MR. TRANDAHL: John, I’m going to ask you to take a minute or so, and just go back into why the mandate came to close ten hatcheries, and ten refuges. Was there political stuff behind this? MR. GOTTSCHALK: No, not really. I’ll tell you exactly how that happened. Robert McNamara was then the Secretary of Defense, he had been what you might call a “high placed official” in General Motors. His principal job at General Motors had been to find ways to cut costs. His experience there had lead him to realize that any large organization had pockets where there was a lack of activity. In other words: functions that weren’t really contributing to the success of the company. He brought that philosophy with him to the Defense Department. At a Cabinet meeting in President Johnson’s office, he reported on his success in finding useless activities, and how many millions dollars that the Defense Department was saving by eliminating those useless programs. He left the message that he was certain that if every Secretary [Cabinet member] looked hard enough, they would find places that could be closed. Johnson, the President, picked that up right then, and gave every Cabinet officer instructions to go back and by the end of the week, submit a list of facilities or activities that could be done without. Our orders came down from the Secretary’s office to close ten hatcheries and 7 ten refuges. There was no plan for closing, no criteria for closing or anything else. Close ten hatcheries and give the list to us by Friday noon. This happened on a Wednesday. Well fortunately, all of the Regional Directors were there so that was fairly simple. I just called them all into my office and said, “Fellas, we have real problem, we have to close ten hatcheries and ten refuges, so by four o’clock tonight, tell me which ones it’s going to be”. This was real progressive management as you can tell! [Sarcastic] I found several other instances where those kinds of decisions, without any planning whatsoever, or any consideration of what the outcome would be, were made. It was sort of difficult to work under those circumstances. The next year, we got exactly the same order: Close ten more hatcheries, and ten more refuges. The thing was, that when this proposal went over to Congress, Congress would not let us close any of these facilities. They put a rider in the appropriations bill that said, “None of these funds may be used to affect the closure of any of the facilities in the Fish and Wildlife Service”. The result was, as the saying goes, we “had to eat” those reductions in funds. They didn’t give us the money, but they forced us to keep the facilities open. That happened two years in a row. And that all came about because Secretary McNamara and his “brain-trusters” in the Defense Department were thinking of ways to cut back on money for the Defense Department. I will say that we did get rid of some lemons in the process. MR. TRANDAHL: I believe that we always have some lemons, and it’s good to squeeze them once in a while. But sometimes it’s hard to run program when you get a mandate to do something and you know its good, you know it’s something that is worth something to the American public and you have to bite the bullet on it. MR. GOTTSCHALK: The only trouble of course, is, that you’d like to do it in a rational, sensible manner. To do it like that, doesn’t give you the opportunity to make the careful evaluation of what projects could be spared, and what couldn’t. As it turned out, none of those refuges were ever closed. We did close of couple of hatcheries as I remember, specifically up in New England that I had personal experience with, and knew that they were really so outdated. There was no hope of fixing them because of water supplies or something. They could afford to be closed. So several were, but at the same time, we began to build some new ones. In the long run, it sort of worked out. You had a question? MR. TRANDAHL: We talking about Bill Hagan. We’ve gone from the Hatchery Program. Who was his successor then? MR. GOTTSCHALK: We promoted E. J. Douglas, “Ed” Douglas, to be the Chief of Hatcheries. MR. TRANDAHL: I understand that Ed Douglas was. . . I’m old enough, and been around enough that I knew, and met E. J. Douglas a few times, and I’ve been told that he was a pretty “smooth” man on The Hill. MR. GOTTSCHALK: Well, he certainly was. He made it a point to become well acquainted with all of the administrative assistants of the Senators on the Senate 8 Appropriations Committee, and the Congressmen on the House Appropriations Committee. I would have say that he did this without any direction. That is to say, I did not put out a directive and say, “You cultivate so-and-so”. But I knew what he was doing, and I could have stopped him if I thought that it was antagonistic to the long-range best interest of the Agency. But Doug played the game very straight. That is to say, that we had a long-range plan for where we wanted our hatchery system to go, and where we needed up upgrade hatcheries. Doug’s work on The Hill supported that program, rather than make runs around it. There were a couple of instances where we didn’t really have control. One of those was West Virginia because Robert Byrd, who was then the Senator from West Virginia, had already established a reputation for trying to “ooze” the federal treasury, so to speak, into West Virginia. He was insistent on spending money in Leightown and other facilities in West Virginia. When I went to Boston I learned that we were going to build a hatchery down near Elkins, West Virginia. There was very little planning done on that hatchery. It is now called The Bowdoin National Fish Hatchery. But it was a project of the Senator’s. He hunted around and found some springs, got some land, and a little hatchery down there. I could go on like this for more. But Doug, I always thought, was a competent administrator. He was certainly well tuned to the appropriations process and kept the hatchery system going with enough funds to do everything that we wanted to do. I never tried to rain Doug in really, except on one that had nothing to do with money, per say. This gets us into the whole philosophy of: What is a hatchery for? We had come to the point where volume production was the goal, rather than quality. And I gave Doug a hard time because we were turning out fish that nobody could be proud of. We were trying to meet production goals without considering the quality of the fish and it’s ability to make a contribution to either an ecosystem or to a sport fishing situation. In other words, we were not producing very strong, healthy or attractive fish because of our insistence on mass production. That was first, and I found it necessary to speak with Doug in very stern terms. I found that I could talk to Doug one to one, and he would hear me all right, but it was hard for him to relay those ideas back into the field in a compulsive way. We were still locked into that “numbers” syndrome of producing for numbers rather than quality. Finally, I adopted the tactic of visiting hatcheries and coming back and giving a report on what I had found, at the Staff meeting of forty or fifty people. They were all of the top-level managers in the Service. If I had the information on that day to make a comment, I would comment, very directly on the poor job that was being done at some fish hatcheries. Doug couldn’t stand this, and that motivated him to try to begin to make a serious philosophical change in the outlook of the Hatchery Superintendents. Up to that point, they operated on the basis, no matter what the Director said, if they didn’t keep their production record up they were going to be in trouble. But when it finally came from Doug himself, in spite of the fact that I was the Director, he had enough influence with the hatchery managers, that when it finally came from him that we wanted to emphasize quality, it rang a bell, if you see my point. MR. TRANDAHL: I understand. MR. GOTTSCHALK: Doug finally retired with the idea that he would parlay his contacts over on The Hill into politics. This actually is true: He went down to Alexandria, bought a large, old home that he felt was a suitable place for someone who 9 might one day become a Senator. His goal on retirement was to become the United States Senator from Virginia. He thought that he had the contacts so that he could do that. He just didn’t realize how far from the real situation in Virginia politics he was, even though he had all of these contacts on The Hill. He thought he was a pretty good political operator. But he never got close to being a part of the Democratic system, which ran all of Virginia politics in those days. That was the “Byrd” system. Doug never made it. I don’t know that this was directly responsible for his ultimate death, but I know he lived to be a very unhappy person before he finally passed away. Part of this was frustration at not seeing his ultimate dream realized. Bill Hagan was something of a problem. He had a lot of rather autocratic ideas of his own. And to be honest about it, Bill had a drinking problem. You never could know for sure that Bill was going to do, between morning and noon, particularly on Fridays. He had some very outlandish ideas about personnel management. He set up a program one time, and proposed it, in which he would approve every promotion in all of the hatcheries in the United States. Every promotion would have to come up to Bill, and he would approve every one. Some of my friends in Personnel said, “This will set back Personnel Management a hundred years”! In any event, he went over to the Aquarium program and when that folded up, he retired. Willis King became Assistant Director for Fisheries. He had been Chief of Fishery Management. He went down to Atlanta as Assistant Regional Director, and came back to Washington as Assistant Director for Fisheries. He was in that position when he retired. Paul Thompson staid in the position of Chief of Fishery Research until he retired. They were all real good men. I thought that we had a real sound organization at that point. Harvey Willoughby took Douglas’ place when Doug retired as Chief of Hatcheries. Harvey had an excellent background, and high standards. I thought Harvey was an excellent person. Now we are down to the point where I left the Agency in 1971, and Lynn Greenwalt ultimately, after Spencer Smith, took over as Director. After that, I had relatively little to do with the Service. I told Lynn Greenwalt, when he took over in 1973 that I would be glad to be of any assistance that I could. All he had do was to call me, and I would be glad to help him in any way possible. The bell never rang, so I have had very little do with the Service, per say, over all, since that time. I did get involved in the Chesapeake Bay restoration program. I was President and Chairman of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay for ten years. I spent a lot of my time as a volunteer there. I got into a lot of fishery issues. That was a very worthwhile program. I served later, as the Chairman of the Conservation Committee, and was a member of the board of the Audubon Naturalists Society, which is a ten thousand-member organization here in the Washington area. That was a very rewarding and active period. I’d like to back up, O. K.? MR. TRANDAHL: You bet. MR. GOTTSCHALK: When I was Chief of Fisheries in Indiana, I became rather skeptical of our hatchery program, and ultimately the Fish and Wildlife Services’ 10 hatchery program. As I indicated earlier, we had a federal hatchery at Rochester, Indiana. We had, altogether nine hatcheries before I left. I remember the first night I went out with a truck to watch them stock a large gravel pit. We unloaded the cans of fish and carried them down to the edge of the water. There was a nice sandy beach. We poured the buckets of little Bluegills, about an inch long, into the water. Suddenly from somewhere in that lake, about six Bass showed up. I could see them, the water was so clear. Out there patrolling about fifteen or twenty feet off shore was this “battalion” of Bass. And here were all of these little Bluegills that we had just dumped in there. There were thousands of them. The Bass immediately came up and started working on the Bluegills. Those Bluegills were so “apprehensive”: I don’t know the right term to use. But the immediate reaction was one of escape. I actually saw those hatchery reared Bluegills swim up out of the water, onto the sand on the beach to escape the predation of those Bass. I thought to myself, “What are we doing”, what are we doing”? Most of what we were producing was Bluegills. I began to take a hard look at what the hatcheries were actually contributing. I must say that I have been somewhat of a skeptic about a lot of hatchery operations ever since. Because we have been caught again, in that numbers syndrome where the only thing was to get a large figure in the record book, without thinking of the value of the product in a stream. I’m not such a purist on this business that I don’t appreciate stocking. I think that there are many places where producing fish for immediate catching by the angler, is a satisfactory and responsible part of the overall fishery management program. One thing that is bad about it is that often, the man that profits from it doesn’t pay his full share. In other words, only a small fraction of the Trout fishermen catch the Trout, that all of the Trout fisherman help pay for. That is a problem that is very difficult to deal with. I don’t know that it’s actually been solved. But otherwise, just to build hatcheries for hatchery’s sake, I soon concluded was the wrong thing to do. I used to have hard discussions with hatchery minded people on that issue. We tried to make sure that we have a clear objective for the use of fish that would be produced. And fish would be produced that the highest possible standards before we went ahead with a hatchery construction program. I got a sad reputation among the hatchery people because I was considered to be an anti-hatchery Director. Here I was, the first person to be the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service who came up through the fishery ranks, and “he was the toughest one on hatcheries, that we’d ever had”. Dan Jansen didn’t pay any attention to hatcheries. And Albert M. Day didn’t pay any attention to hatcheries. They just let it go. The first person to come in and began to look a little more critically was a man named Dr. O. Lloyd Meahen, who was the head of the fishery program when we reorganized and Bill Hagan took his place when he retired. But Dr. Meahen was a biologist with a Ph., D. from Auburn, I think. I can’t remember exactly, now. He was sensitive to the need to have a strong biological justification for hatchery operations. It was hard to maintain that. And a lot of people in the field were thinking of their job, and their grade in the Civil Service, their salary, in other words, was all related to how many fish they could produce. That was a hard thing to overcome. MR. TRANDAHL: John, you’ve been gone from the Fish and Wildlife Service for I guess, in relation to time, quite a while. But I think I know you well enough to know that you haven’t really left the Fish and Wildlife Service. You have made a tool of it over the years, and you have recognized some of the changes and things like that. I guess I am 11 going to ask you a real direct question here. What do you think of the Fish and Wildlife Service today, in the way that it has to function? MR. GOTTSCHALK: Well, to be honest about it, I’m not informed enough about everything that’s going on to have a concrete idea about it. There was a period, a few years ago, when I thought that the Service was in terrible straights because of a lack of competent leadership. I have been more that gratified with John Turner, as a Director. I felt that he did a great deal to restore the espire de corps of the Fish and Wildlife Service. At that time I was confident that it had reached low ebb before John came in. He did wonders in terms of restoring the moral basis for the operations of the agency. And I think Molly Beatty was a person of the finest objectives. Obviously, she did not have a fish and wildlife background, per say, but if it hadn’t been for this terrible illness that she has had, I think she would have been a fine Director. [Side two of tape] For example, I haven’t followed the hatchery program. I really don’t know what the policies are at the present time. The only things that I have maintained an interest in are the things that I was personally involved with, like the restoration of the Striped Bass in the Chesapeake Bay. I would have to say that I took a very active role in developing the fisheries part of the Chesapeake Bay restoration program. MR. TRANDAHL: That was a very successful program. MR. GOTTSCHALK: As it turned out it was terrific. And the Fish and Wildlife Service contributed very constructively to that program. That’s just not in general. That was in hatcheries, because the Service managed to develop a capability of producing Striped Bass. And even though I think nature would have done it without, they were producing and stocking healthy, young Striped Bass that undoubtedly made a contribution. We checked it out with tagging programs and a substantial number of those fish that were stocked in the Chesapeake Bay, survived to spawn. A lot of that came right out of the Fish and Wildlife Service. In that context, I can speak very positively, because I know something about it. I think the Refuge System has been outstanding. I think the Ecological Services program has been a bulwark against unnecessary drainage and destruction of habitat. There is a lot more that could be done, particularly at the present time with what I consider to be a lot of ill informed Congressmen hacking away at that those programs have been trying to do. We need them more that ever. So I hope that they stay. But you can put it a little more in perspective when I tell you this little story: Albert M. Day had been the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. He followed Ira Gabrielson. He was the second Director, and was in that position when I joined the Fish and Wildlife Service. After I became Director, he was the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission. I went up for a large banquet meeting of the Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation. I was to give the principle address that evening. Albert Day sat beside me. He said to me, “John, how are your funds coming”? And I replied, “Well, our current budget is about one hundred and fifty million dollars”. He 12 then said, “One hundred and fifty million dollars! My god, what do you do with all of that money”? I asked him, “What was yours Al”? He told me that the largest budget he ever had was thirty-five million. MR. TRANDAHL: Thirty-five million? MR. GOTTSCHALK: The last I heard, the budget of the Fish and Wildlife Service is something over one billion dollars. A lot of that is inflation. But the fact is that there has been a definite increase in the amount of money that the Service has, to do work with. The biggest new program is of course, Endangered Species. It’s under a lot of attack, you know. But that last I heard it had about one hundred and fifty million dollars or something like that. Many of the other programs have grown exponentially, partly because of the need, and party because of inflation. But I still have a great deal of confidence in the people in the field. The ones that I know are terrific. I know them better than I know the people in this office. MR. TRANDAHL: What’s the most interesting thing that happened to you in your career with the Fish and Wildlife Service? MR. GOTTSCHALK: The most interesting? MR. TRANDAHL: Yes. MR. GOTTSCHALK: Oh that’s hard to say. There are so many levels on which you can think about the most interesting thing. I guess I would have to say that without a doubt, becoming the Director is the apex of any career. We had a wonderful period there when Dr. Stanley came, and was the Assistant Secretary. He was an ecologist from the University of Michigan. He didn’t want to run the agency. He wanted me to run the agency. He wanted to set policy. Clarence Potski was the Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife. Clarence had a fisheries background, but his job was to keep the commercial interests satisfied that they were being well represented. When I was the Director, for the first five years, we had a wonderful management situation. I think that the most gratifying thing to me was the progress that we made in spite of the reductions in budgets because of the war. The improvements that we made professionally, in the staff, and the improvements that we made in programs were the most rewarding thing that happened during my whole career. As I said earlier, I liked my job as Chief of the Division of Sport Fisheries. I just had a free ticket to do anything, and go anywhere that I wanted to go. That was a wonderful opportunity, but the Directorship opened doors for me that otherwise I would not have been able to get in. It made friends for me, in Congress and in the other agencies and throughout the States that made it possible me to join the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, as the Executive Vice-President, after I retired. And of course, being the Director also was terrific. MR. TRANDAHL: O. K., I’m going to ask you another question here: maybe you’ll know how to answer this one. What was the worst thing that happened to you during your career with the Fish and Wildlife Service? 13 MR. GOTTSCHALK: [Laughing] well, when I left it. The circumstances: I’ll make it very brief. Congress established N.O.A.A., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The idea was to put all of the ocean and weather related activities into one big agency in the Department of Commerce. This meant that the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries was taken out of Interior and put in the Department of Commerce, and N.O.A.A. That left just the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife in the Fish and Wildlife Service. That left a Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife over one bureau. It left an Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks over two bureaus, The National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Obviously, there was a layer in there, the Commissioner’s office that was going to have to be eliminated. The then Commissioner was smart enough to realize that. He went up to Secretary Hickell and said, “My job is going to be eliminated”. And very shortly thereafter, it was. “I need a job”. And Secretary Hickell said, “Well, what job do you want”? He then said that the only one he really wanted was the Directorship of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, or the Fish and Wildlife Service. Well, then Hickell said, “Get rid of him. Get rid of Gottschalk”. It was just that simple. And to tell you just how things had worked: I was on a trip to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, out in British Columbia as a matter of fact. I had made arrangements to stop at Boise, and have a luncheon meeting with all of the project leaders of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho. While I was there, I gave my usual talk to the troops. I got a long distance telephone call. It was the Commissioner telling me that I was being discharged. He said, “We’re not going to fire you John, we’re just going to transfer you to another job”. At the end, he said, “Now, don’t let this worry you, have a nice trip”. That was the lowest point. That period of time when I had to decide whether I would fight it, because I was in the Civil Service, and I could have made a fight out of it. Or not. I elected not to on the assumption that it would be better for the agency, not to have this fight going on with me spending most of my time defending myself, and not doing my job. So I transferred to the National Marine Fisheries Service, to be the Assistant to the Director for Environmental and Marine Recreational Fisheries programs. I staid there for three years and retired from that position in 1973. Of course, the irony of the whole thing was that Secretary Hickell undercut the White House when Richard Nixon was President. I won’t go into any details as to how this happened, but he infuriated the White House with a letter that he released that he had written to the President. Instead of waiting for the President to release it, he released it. And I will say that he criticized the Administration for not doing enough for the youth of our Nation. That was so uncalled for in the eyes of the White House people, that they sent one of their hatchet men over six weeks after I left the Fish and Wildlife Service, and fired Secretary Hickell. They fired the Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife, and the Assistant Secretary of Fish and Wildlife and Parks. That was Dr. Glasgow. They fired the Secretary’s Science Advisor, and the Secretary’s Chief of Information. In one afternoon, all of those people got fired! If I had had the foresight to hang on for six more weeks, it might of all passed over. It is sort of ironic the way things work out. But that’s what really happened. MR. TRANDAHL: It can get brutal can’t it? MR. GOTTSCHALK: It can be pretty brutal. 14 MR. TRANDAHL: If you could go back, is there anything that you would have done differently in your career with the Fish and Wildlife Service? MR. GOTTSCHALK: Oh yes, there are a lot of things. You don’t have time for all of them. I tried to emphasize personnel training and advancement, but I didn’t go far enough on that. I was unable to get a good public education program going like I would have liked. This would bring the people of America further along in their appreciate of the environment, and the ecological aspects of the environment, which would be Fish and Wildlife. We did some of that, but we didn’t do nearly enough. I would have liked to have seen our research program greatly expanded into areas that we hadn’t been able to get into, mostly of an ecological nature. Those are some of the main things that I would have liked to have seen us accomplish. We did a great deal. We managed to get rid of DDT while I was the Director. I didn’t do it. I just got the money for the people at Patuxent under Dr. Lucille Stickell, who really did the research to outlaw DDT. We set up a large program to study the effects of contaminates on fish and wildlife. It was all very constructive. And if I were to name one thing that I am the proudest of, it would be that I was the Director when all of the facts and information about the cause of bird deaths from DDT were made known. That is the thing that I would just as soon be remembered for. MR. TRANDAHL: O. K. Well, I guess we are about ready to wind it up here. Is there anything else? MR. GOTTSCHALK: That was a little bit off of the fisheries business, but I think we made a lot of progress in fisheries also. I had a hand in getting that started when I was very much involved in fisheries affairs many years ago. MR. TRANDAHL: I would like to tell you John, as we wind up here, that I guess I don’t know another person that has as much credibility, and that people talk so positively about than John Gottschalk. John Gottschalk is kind of a legend almost, with a lot of people. I’m old enough, and was around when you were still active with the Fish and Wildlife Service. But there are a lot of younger people now, but they still talk about John Gottschalk. Because of a lot of the stuff that you have been involved with has filtered down through the agency. You have been a very positive influence on the Fish and Wildlife Service. MR. GOTTSCHALK: Thank you very much, that’s a very nice compliment. MR. TRANDAHL: You have influenced and impacted the people of the United States. And I am glad I got to know you. MR. GOTTSCHALK: Well now, thank you very much Arden, that’s very complimentary! I appreciate that! MR.TRANDAHL: Well thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today. 15 MR. GOTTSCHALK: It has been my pleasure. And I hope that I have added a little bit to the files of the “Fish Cultural Hall of Fame”. MR. TRANDAHL: You probably added more that you realize! Thank you!
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|Title||John Gottschalk oral history transcript|
|Alternative Title||Interview with John Gottschalk by Arden Trandahl, March 14 , 1996|
|Description||Oral history interview with John Gottschalk. Arden Trandahl as interviewer.|
Work of the Service
|Publisher||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Date of Original||1996-03-14|
|Source||NCTC Archives Museum|
|File Size||222 KB|
|Images Source File Name||9286.pdf|