36 9. An Act to Correct 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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9. An Act to Correct the Boundary of Crater Lake National Park in the State of Oregon, and for Other Purposes (96 Stat. 709–September 15, 1982)

On May 6, 1981, Senator Hatfield submitted a bill (S. 1119) to “correct the boundary of Crater Lake National Park.” The 22,890-acre addition to the park in 1980 included a 480-acre parcel of timber on the west boundary which was scheduled to be cut under a contract entered into by the U.S. Forest Service in 1976. Thus, Hatfield introduced S. 1119 by stating:

Based on field examinations by Forest Service and Park Service personnel, a boundary line based on the above criteria was developed and reviewed by both agencies. The line finally adopted included a small parcel of timber on the west boundary which was scheduled to be cut under a contract entered into in 1976. Field personnel of the National Park Service were not aware that the added lands were subject to an outstanding timber sale. However, neither the sponsor of the legislation nor the Park Service wished to prohibit the exercise of valid contractual rights to cut timber by the boundary change.

Timber harvesting is not permitted within Crater Lake National Park. Accordingly, this legislation would remove from the park about 480 acres, of which 39 acres are scheduled to be harvested and 58 acres have already been cut during 1960-66. The new boundary line will conform the boundary to that which was intended by all parties when the 1980 legislation was considered. [37]

As introduced the bill read:

That (a) the first section of the Act entitled, “An Act reserving from the public lands in the State of Oregon, as a public park for the benefit of the people of the United States, and for the protection and preservation of the game, fish, timber, and all other natural objects therein, a tract of land herein described, and so forth”, approved May 22, 1902 (32 Stat. 202), as amended, is further amended by revising the second sentence thereof to read as follows: “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, Oregon,’ numbered 106-80-001-A, and dated March 1981, which shall be on file and available for public inspection in the office of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.”

(b) Lands, waters, and interests therein excluded from the boundary of Crater Lake National Park by subsection S(a) are hereby made a part of the Rogue River National Forest, and the boundary of such national forest is revised accordingly. [38]

The proposed legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for consideration. Meanwhile, on May 19, Representative Denny Smith of Oregon introduced an identical bill (H.R. 3630) in the House, where it was referred to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.

In response to the request of Senate committee chairman James A. McClure of Idaho Under Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel responded with the department’s position on the bill on September 23. Recommending enactment of the bill Hodel urged passage “to remove the approximately 480 acres of land from Crater Lake National Park, and to make those lands a part of Rogue River National Forest.” On October 7 the committee issued a report recommending passage of the bill without amendment. [39]

The bill passed the Senate on October 21 and was sent to the House where it was referred to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs the following day. Meanwhile on October 16 the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and National Parks had held hearings on H.R. 3630. On November 19 the subcommittee adopted S. 1119 in lieu of H.R. 3630 and reported its findings to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Among its recommendations, which were accepted by the full committee, were amendments authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to initiate studies and actions to assure the retention of Crater Lake’s natural pristine water quality and to designate part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore as wilderness, the text relating to the latter issue becoming Section 2 of the bill.

The committee issued its report on December 10, 1981, recommending passage of the bill as amended. The section of the bill pertaining to Crater Lake included the language originally introduced by Hatfield. Furthermore, a provision was added relative to water quality testing of the lake:

. . . The Secretary of the Interior is authorized and directed to promptly instigate studies and investigations as to the status and trends of change of the water quality of Crater Lake, and to immediately implement such actions as may be necessary to assure the retention of the lake’s natural pristine water quality.

Within two years of the effective date of this provision, and biennially thereafter for a period of ten years, the Secretary shall report the results of such studies and investigations, and any implementation actions instigated, to the appropriate committees of the Congress.

The committee felt that Section C was important in that the lake had “long been considered to contain some of the deepest and most pure water in the world.” Research conducted in recent years had indicated “that water clarity of the lake” had been “reduced by 25% over the last 13 years.” Thus, the committee was concerned that further studies be conducted and steps taken to assure the purity and clarity of the water in Crater Lake. [40]

The Senate concurred with the House amendments on August 19, 1982. Thereafter, it was signed into law (96 Stat. 709) by President Ronald Reagan on September 15. [41]

As congressional debate on this legislation indicated there was increasing concern about the clarity of the water in Crater Lake. Independent studies of Crater Lake during the late 1970s and early 1980s suggested that the lake had decreased in transparency and that the species composition and distribution of the phytoplankton had changed relative to results from short-term studies conducted between 1913 and 1969. Evaluation found that the transparency and phytoplankton data were inadequate for the basis of any definitive conclusions on whether long-term changes had occurred in lake water quality. To build on the existing baseline data, however, the National Park Service initiated a limnological study of Crater Lake during the summer of 1982 while the aforementioned legislation was being debated in Congress. [42]

As a result of this legislation a comprehensive Crater Lake Limnological Studies program was initiated during the summer of 1983. The broad objectives of the program were to (1) develop a reliable limnological data base for the lake for use as a benchmark or basis for future comparison; (2) provide a better understanding of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes of the lake; and (3) establish a long-term monitoring program to examine the characteristics (i.e., temperature, pH, visibility, chlorophyll, and phytoplankton levels) of the lake through time. The purpose of the applied limnological investigations was to examine changing lake conditions and carry out studies to identify the causes of any changes that were found to exist. [43]

Further refinements were made to the Crater Lake limnological program in 1985 and 1986. New studies were initiated to determine the relationship between the fisheries population and the various lake organisms. During the summer of 1985 a research boat plan was approved and a boathouse was constructed on Wizard Island for the purpose of storing the three lake research boats–Boston Whaler, Gregor Pontoon Boat, andLivingston. [44]

By 1986 the limnological program at Crater Lake had become further institutionalized. First, a “Position Statement and Operational Plan for Winter and Spring Research on Crater Lake” was adopted, outlining standardized sampling and logistical procedures for lake research during the winter and spring. [45] Second, the Crater Lake park staff developed a comprehensive, interdivisional limnological program designed to monitor the lake water quality, protect the entire caldera ecosystem, and keep the public informed concerning lake research findings. The interdivisional program provided for clearly defined roles of various personnel and offices, including the Pacific Northwest Regional Office, principal park investigator, and park administrators, resource management specialists, biotechnicians, rangers, and interpreters. [46]

As the limnological program got underway a new threat to the water quality of Crater Lake surfaced. This threat stemmed from approval given in 1985 to the California Energy Company, a Santa Rosa-based geothermal production company, to test drill for geothermal resources in the Winema National Forest adjacent to the park. An environmental assessment prepared for the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in 1984 foresaw no environmental impacts on the park as a result of incorporating various Park Service proposals: measurement of noise levels; testing of surface water for contamination that might occur during drilling; use of equipment to deter drill-hole blowouts; surveys to ensure no drilling inside the park boundaries; and testing of water from the drill holes to see if its chemistry matched that of Crater Lake. Despite these provisions, however, the Park Service continued to be concerned since no one was sure about the possible substrata connections between the geothermally heated waters and Crater Lake. This concern was based on fears that by tapping these hot waters, which would be only a few miles from Crater Lake, developers might jeopardize the water quality of the lake itself. [47]