Dorena Genetic Resource Center was established in 1966 as the headquarters for the White Pine Blister Rust Resistance Program. Screening and breeding for white pine blister rust resistance and the establishment of western white pine arboretum of resistance trees were among the early tasks undertaken at Dorena.
The Dorena Tree Improvement Center's pioneer blister rust resistance selection and breeding program is patterned after work done by Richard T. Bingham, Forest Pathologist, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Moscow, Idaho. Tom Greathouse, Regional Geneticist, now retired, established a similar blister rust resistance program in the Pacific Northwest Region. Today, the Pacific Southwest Research Station and the Rocky Mountain Forest Experiment Station are the primary research assistance source for the Region's western white pine and sugar pine blister rust resistance program.
The Pacific Northwest Region's western white pine and sugar pine blister rust resistant development work started in 1956, followed by the establishment of grafted rust resistant field selections in arboretums. The program included tree selection, controlled crossing, resistance screening, and seed orchard establishment.
In 1966, the Dorena Project was established, and Project Leader Gerald Barnes and his crew were stationed at Dorena. Significant changes occurred during the following years. Peter Theisen became regional geneticist, operating out of the Region's Portland office and providing the Project with technical direction. A Project rust screening facility was built for screening the Region's rust resistant field selections. Another Project building was constructed to store the Region's tree improvement seed. In addition, the Dorena Project established tree climbing methods and equipment training workshops.
The Dorena Project name was changed in 1975 to the Dorena Tree Improvement Center to better reflect the work program. Then in 1976, Cary Osterhaus became the Dorena Tree Improvement Center geneticist, providing on-site direction to the rust resistance program. In 1978, a pilot project for lodgepole pine western gall rust resistance was established, and in the same year Charles Gansel was hired as Center Manager.