Changes in rules coming for park: snowmobiles may be banned at Crater Lake
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
December 18, 2000
By LEE JUILLERAT
CRATER LAKE — A rule change that would eliminate snowmobiling in Crater Lake National Park, already limited to an eight-mile stretch along the North Entrance Road, is expected to be announced in mid-January.
Snowmobiling is permitted in the park this winter but the Department of Interior is preparing changes in the general regulations at four National Park Service areas, including Crater Lake, that would take effect next winter.
Chuck Lundy, Crater Lake superintendent, said he was told the rule change will be listed on the Federal Register in mid-January. There will be a 60-day public comment period. An economic analysis and environmental assessment will be included as part of the process.
Lundy, who had previously been told by Interior officials that a study would be done over a three-year period, has informed Diamond Lake Lodge, snowmobile groups and others of the change, which has not been officially announced.
The expected rule change is being done even though a1995 winter use study determined that snowmobiling along the North Entrance Road was an acceptable use.
Lundy said Diamond Lake Lodge has historically groomed the trail and paid for an annual permit for guided snowmobile trips.
“The thing that impresses me is these people really like Crater Lake,” said Lundy, who is not a snowmobiler. “They’re just as impressed with viewing the lake as the people who drive up or ski along the rim.”
The expected rule change is drawing criticism from snowmobile groups and Steve Koch, Diamond Lake Resort owner.
“It’s the last wonderful thing Mr. Clinton is doing to us,” said an angry Koch, noting the region is already battling a last-minute proposal to create a national monument in the Diamond Lake area. “The only hope I have is that the new (Bush) administration will take a look at this and determine it’s wrong.”
Koch said 98 percent of the resort’s winter business is tied to motorized recreation, primarily snowmobiling.
“At least once in everybody’s visit they snowmobile to Crater Lake. People come from all over the world to see the lake,” said Koch.
Joni Mogstad of Eugene, treasurer of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a multiple use group that stresses motorized recreation, and is the coalition’s liaison to the Oregon State Snowmobile Association, is critical of the rule change process.
“It’s been real secret, this speeded up process,” said Mogstad, who credited Lundy with keeping snowmobile associated groups informed. “The proposal is ridiculous given the small amount of trail. This (snowmobiling) is the way we choose to transport ourselves to the lake.
“Snowmobilers don’t ride in the park for recreational riding. They ride in to look at the lake.”
Although Mogstad believes a ban would most seriously affect Diamond Lake Lodge, she predicted it would prove harmful to Chemult and other communities because “it’s a huge area that Crater Lake draws from.”
“They come here from around the Pacific Northwest and world to see Crater Lake,” said Koch. “If we were causing environmental damage or harming wildlife it would be different, but we’re not. People view the lake, take their pictures and ride back.”
He said a ban would seriously harm the resort’s winter operations.
“It’s really going to hinder them. We can’t stay open if we don’t have this kind of use,” said Koch, whose family owned the resort since 1956. “We’re waiting for the Administration to change.”