Park plan looks at snipping Rim Road
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
July 05, 2002
By LEE JUILLERAT
‘We want to hear from the public.’
—Supt. Chuck Lundy
Significant changes, including closure of a large segment of Rim Drive to motorists, are being considered as a new management plan is developed for Crater Lake National Park.
Park officials, working with the National Park Service’s Denver Service Center, have proposed four alternatives in the draft.
“They are all legitimate alternatives, and we want to hear back from the public,” Superintendent Chuck Lundy said.
The park service has not indicated a preferred alternative, and Lundy expects it will be developed after “some mixing and matching” of proposed alternatives.
Terri Urbanowski of Denver, who is heading the planning team, said public comments will be taken through October. About 50 comments have been received, but that number is expected to spiral from people attending park centennial activities. Crater Lake is celebrating its 100th year as a national park.
“We’re really looking for trends,” said Urbanowski. “We do want to know what the public is thinking. The idea is to put out a variety of ideas. If the majority of people really hate a particular idea, then it’s a bad idea.”
Expected to generate the most controversy is Alternative 4, which places an emphasis on the “preservation and restoration of natural resources.”
Under the proposal, Rim Drive would be closed between Cleetwood Cove and the Phantom Ship Overlook, a distance of about 13 miles. Travel would be limited to hikers and bicyclists to “provide visitors with opportunities for hiking and solitude along the rim.”
The alternative also includes proposals to remove non-historic facilities, transfer most park operations and visitor contact buildings outside the park, reroute trails away from sensitive areas, emphasize “self-guided and discovery education,” interpretive programs promoting “stewardship and resource protection,” and, if feasible, use non-polluting fuels for boat tours.
Winter plowing of the road from park headquarters to the rim would stop, except for spring opening.
Access to the rim would begin from a parking lot near the park headquarters via snow coach, so some “road grooming” would be necessary.
Alternative 2, a “research and learning alternative, would “emphasize research, learning and conveying of information to park visitors” through the to-be-developed Science and Learning Center and expanded partnerships with universities, scientists and educational groups.
Conferences, seminars, field trips, seminars and workshops would be increased. In-depth tours would be offered to interest groups, such as birders or geology clubs. New technology would provide information to “virtual” visitors who might not actually physically visit the park.
To accommodate researchers, some administrative jobs might be moved outside the park to neighboring communities.
Alternative 3, which emphasizes “enjoyment of the natural environment,” would create a range of visitor experiences and recreational opportunities. Partnerships would be expanded with tourism, hospitality and recreation interests. Guided van tours would be encouraged while interpretive programs for handicapped visitors would be expanded.
Under the alternative, shuttle buses would take visitors from Mazama Village at the park’s south entrance to and around Rim Drive, with stops at trailheads. Rim Drive between Cleetwood Cove and the Phantom Ship Overlook would be one-way for private vehicles.
Some interpretive sites might be relocated outside the park through partnerships with the tourism industry.
Alternative 1 would continue existing operations.
Lundy said the plan will chart the park’s future over the next 15 to 20 years.
“The general management plan serves as the foundation planning and management document,” said Lundy. “It’s timely in light of the Centennial because we are looking forward to the future, not just the past.”
Urbanowski predicted the planning process will stretch over the next few years — “After we get a first read from the public, we’ll look at this in more depth.”
A preferred alternative, possibly cobbled together from the proposed alternatives, will be presented in a draft environmental impact statement in the summer or fall of 2003. Public hearings would be held before a final plan is developed.