Dave Bridgwater as born on March 18, 1943 and grew up in the Midwest. Following 4 years in the Navy, he returned to school and graduated with a Master's Degree in Forest Entomology from the University of Washington. He began his career as an entomologist with the USDA Forest Service in 1971 on the Wallowa-Whitman NF. In 1972, he transferred to the (then) Forest Insect and Disease Management Office in the Northeastern Area in Delaware, OH where he spent the next 4 years. He returned to the Pacific Northwest Region in 1976, where he worked as a forest entomologist for 31 years. Altogether, including his military time, Dave was a federal employee with over 40 years of service.
Dave was an entomologist who had significant depth of experience in a very broad range of western forest entomology situations, and was well known and respected for his expertise in mountain pine beetle and other bark beetles, and for forest defoliators, such as western spruce budworm and Douglas-fir tussock moth. He had a broad experience in all aspects of an aerial application program including contracting, project manager, project entomologist, and aircraft calibration.
His knowledge and expertise in aerial detection survey and program management was unsurpassed. He actively worked and, through his persistence, was instrumental in achieving national aerial survey safety standards and quality assurance standards for the aerial detection survey program.
During his stint in the Ohio Field Office, Dave learned about, and worked with gypsy moth. When he returned to the West Coast in the mid-70's he was one of the few people in the West, at the time, that had any experience with that insect and his reputation as one of the most distinguished western gypsy moth experts continued. He provided advice to, and was actively involved in, the Lane County Gypsy Moth Eradication Program in Oregon from 1984-1986 when over 200,000 acres were treated and served in an advisory capacity on, numerous other large and small gypsy moth projects, including the Asian gypsy moth eradication effort in Tacoma, WA and Portland, OR, and the Fisher eradication program in OR. He was one of the most savvy of gypsy moth politicians, keeping always in the forefront, the differences between gypsy moth eradication and gypsy moth suppression and the appropriateness of management strategies under these very different scenarios.
The threat of other introduced invasive insects and diseases continued to increase and was a national priority for the Forest Service. Dave's many years of experience with the gypsy moth, and the numerous contacts that he established as a result - in APHIS, the Departments of Agriculture in both Washington and Oregon, counterparts in Canada, and with other agencies not only in the West, but throughout the U.S. - made him the logical person to lead the Invasive Insect and Disease Program in the Pacific Northwest Region; the program manager position that he held until he retired.
Dave was the ultimate punster and had a wry sense of humor. He was always an active mentor and advisor, and many forest entomologists credit him as one of their most valued mentors. After he retired in January 2008, entomologists continued to solicit his advice, which he freely provided. The compilation of all the knowledge that he shared will never equal the vast sum that was accumulated within the person. He will be truly missed, both within Forest Health Protection, and throughout the forest entomology community.
Prepared by Iral Ragenovich, USFS.