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


The administrative history of Crater Lake National Park is a case study of the methods and practices used to manage one of the most scenic areas in the United States. As a result of the vision and determination of William G. Steel, Crater Lake was removed from the public domain and made a part of the Cascade Range Forest Reserve in 1893 to be managed by the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior.

In 1902 Crater Lake was established as the sixth national park in the United States. The establishing act provided that the park was to be an area “dedicated and set apart forever as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit of the people of the United States.” The act required that measures be taken to preserve the scenery, timber, wildlife, and other natural features of the park for the use of “scientists, excursionists, and pleasure seekers.” Thus, the national park designation reflected in part changing American attitudes toward nature, the old pioneering emphasis on rapid exploitation of seemingly inexhaustible resources at last giving way, among some influential Americans, to an awakened awareness of the necessity of preserving the beauties of nature.

Since 1902 efforts have been made to achieve the purposes stated in the establishing act for Crater Lake National Park. During the period from 1902 to 1916 the park was administered by various offices in the Department of the Interior, and under the direct supervision of Superintendents William F. Arant and William G. Steel its formative stages of development were commenced After the National Park Service was established in 1916, Crater Lake soon became known as one of the “crown jewels” of the embryonic National Park System. During the past seven decades the Park Service has initiated operational, planning, and construction programs designed to achieve the original purposes of the park.


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