Crater Lake symposium broad as well as deep
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
October 07, 2002
By LEE JUILLERAT
ASHLAND — Pack horses, fungi, submarines, Indian legends, bull trout, landscape photograph, raptors and geology were among diverse topics discussed during a three-day symposium celebrating the 100th anniversary of Crater Lake National Park.
“Crater Lake: A Tapestry of Inspiration,” was held Friday and Saturday at Southern Oregon University in Ashland and Sunday at the park.
The park is celebrating its 100th year since being established as the nation’s sixth national park by President Theodore Roosevelt in May 1902.
John Reynolds, the recently retired regional director for the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region, praised park officials for honoring the centennial and, even more, for “focusing steadfastly on the future,” during a Saturday afternoon plenary talk.
Reynolds urged park managers and the concerned public to exercise a “cautionary principle” at Crater Lake and all national parks.
“We must continue (managing parks) with increasing diligence,” insisted Reynolds.
He said political pressures nationally and internationally threaten environmental conditions at Crater Lake and elsewhere. As an example, Reynolds said Asian dust blowing from China, which has lax air pollution standards, “is changing everyone’s air internationally.”
Reynolds also recounted efforts by geothermal companies in the 1980s to develop geothermal power projects just outside Crater Lake park’s boundaries. With increasing power demands, he cautioned that renewed energy development efforts are possible within coming years.
“The protections are tenuous at best,” he said of law protecting park resources.
Historically, Reynolds said Crater Lake and other national parks were created primarily for their scenic value. Based on those values, managers previously believed, “If it looks good, it is good. But when it applies to forest health, lake health or stream health, that standard may fall short. Good science and communication has changed how that visual bias is perceived.”
In urging “extreme caution,” Reynolds admitted the park’s ecosystem is “a system we know little about.”
He also said ongoing pressures are affecting Crater Lake and other national parks as more people seek to find refuge in parks. He warned that increased use may affect the “freedom of access” as park managers try to limit the number of vehicles and visitors.
Although Crater Lake was created as a national park primarily because of its unique beauty, but Reynolds said ongoing studies have redefined the park’s value.
He said the four tracts of study at the symposium —”The Park as a Classroom,” “The Park as a Sacred Place,” “A Park for Science and Learning” and “A Park for Inspiration and Expression” — reflect the park’s variety of interests and purposes.
“It is definitely a ‘Wow!’ when you top the rim,” said Reynolds. “It still is the park of a hundred years ago, but think and feel how its mission has grown. The park is becoming more than the people the people who wrote the legislation that created it ever envisioned.”
Regional Editor Lee Juillerat covers Lake, Siskiyou, Modoc and northern Klamath counties. He can be reached at 885-4421, (800) 275-0982, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.