CHAPTER NINE: Legislation Relating to Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present B. WILDERNESS DESIGNATION PROPOSALS

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

 CHAPTER NINE: Legislation Relating to Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present

A National Wilderness Preservation System, established by Congress on September 3, 1964, has had a significant impact on administration and management of Crater Lake National Park. The establishing act of the system (Public Law 88-577) stated that it was “the policy of Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” Within ten years the Secretary of the Interior was to:

review every roadless area of five thousand contiguous acres or more in the national parks, monuments and other units of the national park system . . ., under his jurisdiction of the effective date of this Act and shall report to the President his recommendation as to the suitability or nonsuitability of each such area . . . for preservation as wilderness.

The National Wilderness Preservation System was “to be composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as ‘wilderness areas’.” The law defined a wilderness as

an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean . . . an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which: (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least 5,000 acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical values.

Areas included in the wilderness system would continue to be managed by the agencies having jurisdiction over them. [48]

Studies were conducted at Crater Lake National Park for several years, culminating in the preparation of a Wilderness Proposal in October 1970. [49] Five roadless areas within the park totaling some 151,100 acres were studied. Four of the areas were located, one in each quadrant of the park, and the fifth encompassed Crater Lake itself. Each of the four areas had, according to the proposal, “a remarkable variety of natural features.” The “forested crater slopes and river drainages” had “retained much of their original wilderness character ever since the park was established in 1902.” The proposal stated further:

The park is almost entirely surrounded by national forest lands managed by the Forest Service for multiple use, primarily timber production. Logging roads run close to the park boundary in many places. The forest on the east is of poor quality; it was clearcut in the past, but is now selectively cut. Along much of the west boundary, the area outside the park has been logged to within 100 yards of the park. Logging in the national forest to the north of the park has not been very active because of the forest type there. National forest land lying immediately southwest of the park has not been logged, and the Forest Service is administering this area in a primitive condition.

The proposal contained descriptions of the four areas in the park recommended for wilderness designation. The four areas comprised a total of some 104,200 acres. Preliminary Wilderness Proposal No. 1 consisted of some 31,500 acres of an approximate 38,300 acres in the northeast roadless area. This area had the following boundaries and predominant visitor uses:

This roadless area extends from the north entrance eastward to the northeast corner of the park, then southward past the eastern slopes of Mt. Scott to the Pinnacles area. Its western boundary extends from the Pinnacles area along the Pinnacles Road, the Rim Drive, and the North Entrance Road. The northeast roadless area varies in width from 1-1/2 to 8 miles along its 15-1/2-mile length. . . .

Predominant visitor uses in this roadless area are hiking, fishing, and limited wilderness camping. The region is too dry for extensive back-country use. A 2-1/2-mile trail to the summit of Mt. Scott is maintained for hikers.