CHAPTER TWELVE: Resource Management: 1916-Present C. RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: 1940s

Crater Lake National Park: Administrative History by Harlan D. Unrau and Stephen Mark, 1987

 CHAPTER TWELVE: Resource Management In Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present



Despite the virtual shutdown of regular park operations during World War II, park management continued to be concerned with resource management issues. One of the continuing problems facing the park was wildlife protection. In November 1944, for instance, the park master plan described the problems facing park wildlife:

The topography of Crater Lake National Park. consists mainly of a mountain top of high elevation, without adequate winter range in the adjacent valleys for the various park animals, which migrate to lower elevations each winter because of the deep snow fall. Except for such animals as hibernate during the winter months, no natural faunal unit exists within the park, which in reality constitutes an entirely inadequate range for many of the larger or migratory park animals, and causes them to fall prey to hunters and trappers each year as they move outside of the park boundaries.

The area immediately to the east of the park is adjacent to the Klamath Indian Reservation, and the Indians, natural-born hunters, recognize no closed season. The east slope of the Cascade Range in the park area is therefore believed becoming particularly depleted of various larger or migrating animals. The west slope of the range, a small part of which is within the park, and the area to the west of the park boundary in the Rogue River National Forest, constitutes a more favorable range. Unfortunately these animals, particularly bear and deer, migrate in and out of the park into the adjacent National Forest area or on to privately owned lands, where more or less hunting of bear, deer and lesser animals continues throughout the year, with but slight regard for the open and closed seasons, enforcement of which is vested in local authorities. Many “old-timers” still consider they are justified in killing a deer, an elk or a bear any time they get the chance. [34]

In terms of wildlife concerns bear management problems continued to be the principal problem facing the park. On August 17, 1942, a special report on the issue stated:

The lack of travel due to the war restrictions, and the absence of CCC camps, road contractors camps, etc. has resulted in a drastic reduction in the amount of garbage heretofore available at our garbage disposal area. The bears, which have been spoiled for a good many years back by having ample food supplies, still hang around this pit, expecting to be fed, instead of getting out and rustling their own living. The result is that the bears have been hungry and as a consequent have been ill-tempered and more dangerous than at any time in the past several years. They have also done considerable damage, and have made themselves a nuisance generally.

A month later Superintendent Leavitt submitted to NPS Director Newton B. Drury a list of twelve serious “bear depredations” in the park during the summer. [35]

Crater Lake officials took. various actions to deal with the bear problem in the park. In 1943 park rangers at Crater Lake, along with those in Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, initiated programs that resulted in the disposal of some 87 bears as a population control measure and to eliminate animals that were dangerous to human beings. [36] Two years later a new garbage disposal site was established in an isolated area at the lower end of Munson Valley, some 2-1/2 miles south of park headquarters where the original garbage dump had been located. Although signs were posted “Danger–Do Not Feed the Bears” there was a continuing problem with park visitors feeding bears from their cars along park roads, thus causing traffic obstruction and risks to visitor safety. One boy was severely bitten during such an incident. Efforts were made to educate the public about the personal dangers associated with feeding bears as well as the fact that feeding bears often led to their becoming troublesome. [37]

Management of fishing and fish planting continued to be issues of concern to park management during the war. New fishing regulations were issued on April 6, 1942. The revised rules provided for:

A state or federal license to fish in Crater Lake National Park. is not required. Fishing with nets, seines, traps, or by the use of drugs or explosives, or for merchandise or profit, or in any way other than with hook and line, the rod being held in the hand, is prohibited.

Fishing in particular waters may be suspended, or restricted. Although general regulations governing parks permit a catch of only ten fish per person per day, the number of fish that may be caught in Crater Lake National Park has been set at 12 fish per person per day. . . . The limit of fish in possession at any one time is two days’ catch.

No fish less than six inches long may be retained, unless a different limit is established by special regulations. All fish hooked less than such limit in length shall be carefully handled with moist hands and returned at once to the water, if not seriously injured. Undersized fish retained because seriously injured shall be counted in the number of fish which may be taken in one day.

Some 20,000 rainbow trout from the state fish hatcheries at Butte Falls and Fort Klamath were planted in Crater Lake in 1941. Thereafter, planting was discontinued and would never be resumed. [38] (See below for a copy of “Fish Liberations In Crater Lake” during 1910-41.)