50 C. Resource Management: 1940s

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


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


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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.)

Fish Liberations in Crater Lake

Year Rainbow
Silver Salmon

1910 50,000
1914 2,000 15,000 20,000
1922 25,000 3,500
1923 14,000 11,000
1924 24,000
1925 22,500
1927 46,800
1928 64,000
1930 3,000 7,500
1931 98,000
1932 156,000 163,000
1933 200,000 150,000
1934 54,000
1935 100,000 20,000
1936 25,000 25,000
1937 100,000 50,000
1939 100,000
1940 85,820
1941 20,000

Old Naturalist Files, Crater Lake National Park.

Protection of park forests against forest fires was one of the principal concerns of park management during the war. The park fire protection program was divided into three categories for management purposes: prevention, presuppression, and suppression. Prevention

included public control and education and fire hazard reduction. Presuppression comprised organized personnel training, acquisition of fire equipment, and physical improvements. The latter included protection motorways, fire, horse, and foot trails, and fire breaks; lookout stations on the Watchman and Mount Scott; four ranger stations at the north entrance, Annie Spring, Lost Creek, and park headquarters; five patrol cabins at National, Bybee, Red Blanket, and Bear creeks and Maklak Spring, a radio and telephone communication system; and fire toolboxes and caches. Suppression of fire was to be accomplished primarily by trained park personnel employing hand tools. Cooperative fire fighting agreements were in force with all adjoining forest protection agencies. To strengthen the park’s fire-fighting capability a detailed Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture for mutual aid in fire control was approved in January 1943. [39]

By the early 1940s a soil and moisture conservation program had been initiated at Crater Lake. The program, as described in November 1944, had two principal objectives for resource management:

1. To stop erosion on slopes, cuts, fills, embankments, borrow pits and quarry sites, and to promote growth of grasses, plants, shrubs, bushes and trees on all such areas where vegetation is now lacking, in order to restore these slopes to a more pleasing and natural condition and at the same time materially reduce the present heavy annual maintenance costs of removing eroded material.

2. To stop erosion of Crater Walls at developed or improved areas in an effort to preserve and protect the rim of the crater and save trees, bushes, shrubs, plants, and grassed areas from destruction. To prevent erosion of the soil on which improvements exist, viz, sidewalks, parapet walls, buildings, landscape planting, etc. [40]

The year 1946 marked a transition from war-time to peace-time operations which entailed many readjustments in forest protection at Crater Lake. During the year the ranger and fire protection forces handled only five forest fires, all inside the park, three of which were lightning-caused and two man-caused. The Fire Weather Unit of the U.S. Weather Bureau broadcast daily fire weather forecasts and supplemented these with telegraphic forecasts at particularly critical periods. Local fire weather conditions were determined by the stations at park headquarters and the Watchman Lookout. A revised administrative plan of action (Strength of Force Plan) was developed to ensure improved fire protection and suppression (a copy of the plan may be seen in Appendix A). Improvements were made to the Watchman and Mount Scott lookouts, the park telephone and radio communication systems, and the truck trail system for fire control purposes. [41]

During the fall of 1946 a field survey and report of mountain pine beetle infestation conditions by R.L. Furniss of the Portland Laboratory of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine led to the development of an insect control project at Crater Lake. The project was carried out in May-June 1947 and had as its objective the halting of an aggressive beetle infestation in the lodgepole pine stands in the southeastern section of the park. Two treating methods were used–solar heat and lethal oil spray. Wherever possible the solar heat method was employed as it was quicker and less costly. Both methods required that the trees be felled, limbed, and the tops cut off. [42]

During the postwar years park management gave increasing attention to the question of recreational fishing at Crater Lake. While a definitive policy was not formulated, the park took the position of neither encouraging nor discouraging fishing pending further limnological studies. In August 1948 Superintendent Leavitt explained the rationale behind the park staff’s thinking on the subject:

. . . beginning with the season of 1937 a research project was started by conducting limnological studies by Professor A.D. Hasler under the supervision of former Park Naturalist John E. Doerr. The primary purpose was to determine the amount and character of fish food available in the lake to the rate of growth of fish, fishing conditions, and related data in order to obtain the information necessary in carrying out our fish planting and fish catching program. These studies have been carried out since that date from season to season under the general supervision of Dr. Donald S. Farner, interrupted, of course, by the war period and Dr. Farner s inability to be with us every season.

Our studies began on a theory that fish were unable to spawn in Crater Lake. We found this to be untrue as there is definite evidence that the silverside salmon do spawn in Crater Lake, and we have good reason to believe that the rainbow trout do also. If natural spawning occurs in the lake, the management program that we visualized at the beginning of our study cannot be carried out because of inability to control the number of fish that might be introduced into the lake through spawning. All our studies to date indicate that there is a great deal of information still to be obtained before we can determine whether we shall attempt to continue Crater Lake as a fishing lake as it has been in past years or whether we will let the fish die out and keep Crater Lake in a natural and unmodified condition without fish life as it was when first discovered.

More and more we are thinking seriously of endeavoring in every possible way to keep the waters of Crater Lake, the crater walls, and Wizard Island areas in as natural a condition as possible, unmodified by the hand of man.

There are many lakes in Oregon suitable for fishing, boating, swimming, and other recreational sports, but there is only one Crater Lake in the world. [43]