Public Deceived? Crater Lake Hearings – August 8, 1975

Public Deceived? Crater Lake Hearings

Oakland Tribune

Medford, Oregon
August 8, 1975
CRATER LAKE, Ore. (AP) – The National Park Service and the Senate Interior Committee have scheduled hearings to investigate allegations that the public was deliberately deceived about the existence of contaminated water at Crater Lake National Park. The park “was closed for about three weeks in July, after sewage contamination of the water supply was discovered. Hundreds of tourists and residents of the Crater Lake area became ill before the cause was discovered and publicized.

John Rutter of Seattle, regional director of the National Park Service, has ordered a board of inquiry to explore the causes and handling of the water contamination.

The six-member board will convene at 9 a.m. Monday in the community building at Crater Lake.

Members of the board are Leroy Fisk, head of the water quality control division of the Oregon Institute of Technology; Curt Townsend of the Park Service’s Southwest district; Wayne Howe of the Pacific Northwest district; Henry Ongerth, chief sanitary engineer for the State of California; John McCutcheon, Denver, Public Health Service sanitarian, and Nell Kuonen of the Klamath’ Falls Chamber of Commerce.

In another development, Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., announced today that the parks and recreation subcommittee of the Senate Interior Committee will hold a field hearing Sept. 6 in Medford, Ore.

“Very serious charges have been made,” said Hatfield, a member of the Interior Committee, “and I intend to press this issue until satisfactory answers are received.” He said he has received reports that park employes were pressured not to report sickness, of employes working while very sick and about removal of signs that warned of contaminated water. Hatfield added, “The hearing will also allow the lodge operator and Park Service personnel to relate their interpretation of events at the park leading up to the closure.”

Park Closure Hits Economy

Merchants in Southern Oregon are reeling under an estimated loss of $1 million in tourist revenue caused by last month’s three-week closure of Crater Lake National Park.

The National Park Service estimated 30,000 tourists would have visited Crater Lake each week. Closure for three weeks due to a contaminated water supply meant nearly 100,000 fewer tourists visited the park and nearby areas.

The Travel Information Office of Oregon reported the average expenditure per day per visitor is $10.36, so a conservative estimate of revenue losses is $1 million.

Fred Brenne, manager of the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce, said tourist traffic in Klamath Falls, about 60 miles south of the Crater Lake area, was down about 18 per cent in July.