Oral Histories

Lloyd M. Pierson

Lloyd Pierson

L. I wrote the FAA (Federal Aeronautics Administration). “You had better do something. The one in the valley down below was moved because of problems with the wind. You better do some checking on the proposal. I live at about the same elevation and I know that sometimes the wind blows like hell out of the southeast.”

In Denver there was a gal named Jacki who had married a neighbor kid. His old man was a Dutchman, Bakker, who married an Indonesian woman and had a bunch of kids. Hans was one of them and Jacki was an Acoma. Hans looked Indian. We went down to Acomita to their wedding. Jacki answered my letter to the FAA with a phone call. She was their secretary. They never built it, never got anywhere with that airport.

We worked with Bates who got Canyonlands set aside. When I went to work for the BLM, the first trip I took over to Utah, going down to Monticello where the district office was at that time. My boss had been the recreation specialist in the BLM state office in Salt Lake City. I told him where I was going; he says, “You better go to Salt Lake first.” “What for?” “To check in with R.D. Neilson, the state director.” So, I got up to get on the 6 o’clock plane. Got in to SLC at 8; got to the office. Sitting there. R.D. is opening his mail. I’m sitting there. About 10 o’clock this nice little man comes out. R.D. will see me. R.D. starts chewing this poor little guy out. What the hell is this? I had only had one course in management, but I knew that you didn’t do things like that in front of strangers. When that was over R.D. opens up his coat leans back and asks, “Well, what do you know about Utah archeology?” I didn’t know what to say. The little guy says, “R.D., this man lived in Moab for five years.” I said, “Yeah, and you might as well know it, I’m one of those SOB’s that helped steal Canyonlands away from you.” He gave me a hard look and from then on we got along fine. No more problems. I told my boss, who had worked for him and he said that was the way to handle it. Perfect. R.D. was a curmudgeon from the word go.

J. Was R.D. a senator?

L. No, he was a political type but held never gotten anywhere.

J. So, you just went to him because you were in the BLM?

L. Yeah, well that was pretty standard. When you were sent to work in somebody’s area, you went in to talk to the district manager or in some cases the state director. I quickly found out you could determine the personality of the manager by his shoes. There were several kind of shoes. Out in Oregon the guys had these caulked boots, they were foresters out there. Then you’d run into cowboys and even run into guys that wore saddle shoes.

J. What kind did Nielson have?

L. I think he had cowboy boots. I remember Gene Nodine. I worked with him first in Baker, Oregon, then out in Las Vegas. In Oregon he had cowboy boots on, in Vegas street shoes. When you had to get along with cowboys you dressed liked them. If you went to a squaw dance you had to dress like an Indian.

J. When were you out to Las Vegas?

L. Many times. I was working as the archeologist in the service center in the Standards and Technology Division. We were supposed to write manuals and provided technical help. I had eleven states and back east. Having lived in Florida paid off. While I was in Florida I’d gone up to O’Leno State Park for a training session. That’s where the Santa Fe River goes underground and shows up somewhere else in Florida later on. This is an interesting place.

In Washington, D.C. the BLM had an Eastern States Office where they handled a lot of the leasing on Forest Service land for minerals and some land back there that they still had the mineral rights on, the surface being private. And “relicted land,” whatever that means. This young fellow had an Environmental Impact Statement that he wanted me to read, on a phosphate development down in Florida on forest service land near O’Leno State Park. They mentioned stuff but they didn’t say how they were going to take care of it. There had been an historic trail through there associated with the battlefield during the Seminole War. And there had been a couple of natural areas and some archeological sites and they didn’t say what they were going to do. Having been there I knew a little about it and I wrote a kind of nasty review. We were called in before one of the Associate Directors. What he said was, “The guy who causes the problem has to pay for it,” i.e. the excavation. Meaning the division or organization of the BLM that was causing the problem of destroying the resource would have to pay for the mitigation. My boss accused me one time of having too much fun. I said, “I can’t help it, I like my work.”

J. Seems like you’re pretty busy, being retired.

L. I enjoy retirement too. Keep busy doing research, the latest on place names. Have these been mentioned in some of the records?

J. Fisher.

L. It’s been kind of a mystery. I know that there was a Fisher that did some geology in that part of the world (Fisher Towers) but I don’t think he was famous enough. I will check it out.

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