EPA’s Western Ecology Division Reflects on 50 Years of Research

By Coral Tily

A photo of the listed contents of the time capsule: a newspaper, a photo of the building, a list.

Contents of the time capsule.

The Western Ecology Division in Corvallis, Oregon is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the building. To commemorate the anniversary, the division opened the cornerstone and unsealed the time capsule to reflect on 50 years of research.

The time capsule was located in a document box behind the cornerstone encased in 50-year old plaster.

The contents in the time capsule were a snapshot of life in Oregon in 1966. It included photos of the original building, an Oregon State University newsletter, current copies of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and the Oregonian, the dedication invitation list, a Life Magazine, and the Oregon State Flag.

In 1966, the facility was constructed for research pertaining to waste treatment and water pollution control. It was originally called the Pacific Northwest Water Laboratory under the Department of Interior’s Federal Water Pollution Control Administration. The Interior Secretary at the time, Stewart Udall delivered the dedication address.

The facility was transferred to the newly formed EPA in 1970, and became the National Environmental Research Center – Corvallis. Research transitioned to fish toxicology and air pollution in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s, the facility began research in acid rain, ecotoxicology, and air pollution. The 1990’s saw a shift to environmental monitoring and biotechnology.

In 1995, with a reorganization of the EPA, the National Environmental Research Center-Corvallis became the Western Ecology Division under the National Health and Environmental Effect Laboratory. The environmental monitoring program evolved into the current research of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys.

Today, the Western Ecology Division is fully engaged in climate change, ocean acidification, ecosystems services, and emerging nanomaterials research. During the next couple of weeks, the division is taking suggestions for items to place into the document box for future excavations.

Read more about the event in the Corvallis Gazette-Times article EPA office in Corvallis celebrates 50 years.

About the Author: Coral Tily is an information services specialist at EPA’s Western Ecology Division.

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