35 8. An Act to Revise the Boundary

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


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


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8. An Act to Revise the Boundary of Crater Lake National Park in the State of Oregon, and for Other Purposes (94 Stat. 3255–December 19, 1980)

On February 20, 1980, Senator Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon introduced legislation (S. 2318) to revise and expand the boundaries of Crater Lake National Park. Hatfield noted in the Congressional Record that the bill was designed “to further protect a national park which houses the deepest and possibly the most pure body of fresh water in the United States. He went on to present a lengthy speech explaining the rationale behind his bill:

In contrast to most other natural lakes, Crater Lake has no influent or effluent streams to provide continuing supplies of oxygen, nutrients, and large volumes of fresh water. Thus, water entering the lake comes directly from rainfall or snowmelt and leaves by means of evaporation or seepage through fractures in the caldera wall. Its purity is thus highly susceptible to man-caused pollution, which would not be “flushed” by water moving through the lake.

Several other ecological communities of importance exist within the park. It is to these features that I address my concern. This legislation provides, through a moderate expansion of the park, protection for key natural features associated with the geological formations in the park. On the east, the boundary modifications would include the Sand Creek Drainage, a canyon which contains geological pumice formations commonly referred to as “The Pinnacles,” as well as Bear Butte, a significant scenic feature viewed from within the park. To the north, the proposed boundary incorporates the lower slopes of Timber Crater, and the Desert Ridge-Boundary Springs ecological units. Sphagnum Bog, an area to the west of the park, which exhibits a flora of mosses and herbs, is fed by Crater Springs. The proposal incorporates that spring, as well as the scenic Spruce Lake into the park. Just outside the southwest corner of the park is a unique area known as Thousand Springs. This feature also would be included in the park, if the Senate enacts this legislation.

Total acreage of the existing park is 160,290. My proposal would add approximately 22,890 acres to that figure, all of which are presently managed by the U.S. Forest Service. There is no private land involved in this proposal.

I might also note . . . that the major portion of this acreage was recommended last year by the administration for additional protection as wilderness through the Forest Service evaluation of roadless areas, known as RARE II . After intensive evaluation by myself and my staff, I agreed that these lands merit protection. However, because of their size and relationship to the geological features of the park, I believe it makes sense that these lands be managed by the National Park Service.

. . . a glance at the map indicates that the straightlined boundaries drawn 80 years ago did not follow the ecological features of the land area, but simply carved a rectangle to assure protection of the lake. If we were to draw boundaries today which reflect natural ecological features related to those in the existing park, I believe they would clearly follow those proposed in this legislation. . . . [32]

The proposed additions by Hatfield comprised 8,000 acres less than a proposal by the administration of Jimmy Carter in 1979 to designate lands (RARE II) adjacent to the park boundaries as wilderness managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Lands deleted by Hatfield included acreage in the Diamond Lake area north of the park to permit its continued use by snowmobiles and land south of the park because much of it was in the wilderness bill and some was part of a proposed exchange with the state. Hatfield’s bill was based on the recommendations of Park Service and Forest Service officials that had met at his instigation to come up with manageable boundaries that would contain features that could be placed in the park. [33]

As introduced S. 2318 provided for the repeal of the Act of May 14, 1932 (47 Stat. 155). Provisions in the bill included:

. . . The boundary of the park shall encompass the lands, waters, and interests therein within the area generally depicted on the map entitled, “Crater Lake National Park,” numbered 106-80,001, and dated February, 1980, which shall be on file and available for public inspection in the office of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Lands, waters, and interests therein within the boundary of the park which were within the boundary of any national forest are excluded from such national forest and the boundary of such national forest is revised accordingly. [34]

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which had Henry M. Jackson of Washington as its chairman. On September 18, 1980, the committee reported favorably on the bill and recommended passage without amendment. In its report the committee observed that the purpose of the proposal was to expand the park “by some 22,890 acres, in order to protect important natural features and to establish a more identifiable boundary.”

The committee report contained a lengthy section on the background and need for the bill. This section read in part:

Since the lake was viewed as the primary feature of the park, straight line boundaries, generally following land survey section lines, were drawn to assure protection of the lake and to delineate the park. These boundaries did not follow the natural ecological features of the land area nor did they include certain significant natural features associated with the geological formations in the park.

In April of 1979, the administration transmitted to Congress its recommendations for management of some 62 million acres of roadless national forest lands. Included in its wilderness recommendations was a 30,000-acre strip of U.S. Forest Service land which surrounds Crater Lake National Park. These lands were recommended by the Forest Service for designation as wilderness.

The committee, however, felt these lands that are geographically related to the features of the park should be managed by the National Park Service, rather than having a narrow strip surrounding the park managed in wilderness by another agency.

In addition, the proposed minor changes would improve the park boundary by more closely following the topographical features of the land area. It would also add to the park key natural features associated with the geological formations in the park. . . .

Since the bill would have the effect of transferring lands from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service no additional administrative costs were expected to be incurred by the federal government as a result of the bill’s passage. It was estimated that it would cost $300,000 to post the revised boundary line. The removal of the lands involved from the national forest system would reduce the long-term programmed harvest of the surrounding forest by approximately 800,000 board feet per year, thus causing a long-term reduction in timber receipts of some $200,000 annually. [35]

A companion bill, Title I of H.R. 8350, was introduced by Representative Philip Burton in the House of Representatives on November 17, 1980. The Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, to which the bill was referred, was discharged from consideration, and H. R. 8350 passed the House on November 19.

S. 2318 was brought before the Senate for consideration on December 4, 1980. During debate a section was added to the bill concerning provisions to make possible more effective protection of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and more comprehensive management of the Alpine Lakes Area in Washington as established by the Alpine Lakes Area Management Act of 1976. The bill, as amended, passed the Senate on December 4 and the House the following day. The bill was signed into law (94 Stat. 3255) by President James E. Carter on December 19, 1980. [36]