Lodgepole Pine at Crater Lake: History and Management of the Forest Structure
Since the advent of white man, biotic conditions in Crater Lake National Park have been modified considerably from those of its primeval state. A return toward primeval conditions recently has become a goal of Park management policy. Thus, knowing what types of changes white man’s influence has wrought, and where (and when possible, why) these have occurred, has become of great importance to the Park managers. In 1976-77 we conducted a study of the lodgepole pine forests, with the goal of providing this information. We described the state of present lodgepole forests, and gathered evidence for the importance of several processes which affect its characteristics. We attempted to establish what the primeval forest structure was, to infer the changes since white man arrived, to determine what caused these changes, to predict the future course of forest development, and thereby to suggest the appropriate ways to return these forests to their primeval condition.
Lodgepole pine occurs throughout much of the Park. Areas included in our study were those in which lodgepole comprises more than 50% of the tree layer. We find that the lodgepole pine forest is more complex than we anticipated, with several distinct types of ecosystems represented. The different lodgepole communities have different histories, futures, and environments. Likewise, management policy will need to vary with the forest type. The model for managing forests of ponderosa pine is inappropriate except for a minority of the lodgepole forest. Some lodgepole communities have changed little, and most altered communities will return toward their primeval state without any positive action of management, given a natural fire policy.
Our conclusions have been based on a combination of appropriate information from the literature and on our description of the forests at Crater Lake. The details and our conclusions about all but the management procedures are presented in R. S. Zeigler. 1978. The vegetation dynamics of Pinus contorta forest, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Masters Thesis, Oregon State University. 182 p. Copies of the thesis have been presented to the Park Service.
A summary of the information from the thesis upon which we based our suggestions for management is presented in this report, along with those suggested procedures and a map of the management units for which each is appropriate. In instances where information from the literature or our data is incomplete or even conflicting, what we present here represents what we believe to be the most probable case. Evidence and argument for many of these points are presented by Zeigler (1978).
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