Falling trees do damage at Crater Lake – November 19, 2004

Falling trees do damage at Crater Lake

Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon
November 19, 2004
CRATER LAKE – Eighteen years of living and working at Crater Lake National Park have provided Kent Taylor, the park’s administrative officer, with plenty of experiences.

But a violent wind storm earlier this month really shook him up.
“I could hear the wind howling and it was pretty constant,” remembers Taylor of a storm that rattled the park and toppled trees between 6 and 8 p.m. Nov. 3. “In the middle of that was one good gust that shook the house. It was kind of like the house wanted to move a quarter of an inch.”

Shortly afterwards, Taylor checked out a report that trees had fallen on the community building. When he stepped outside, he figured the park was experiencing a blizzard because of the wildly blowing snow, but when he looked up he saw a sky full of stars.

It wasn’t until the next morning that Taylor and others realized the winds had uprooted and cracked dozens of trees, including some that caused up to $100,000 worth of damage to four park buildings.

“Eighteen years and this is the worst wind storm we’ve had,” Taylor said.

Cleaning up the damage won’t happen anytime soon.

“There’s not a lot we can do right now,” said Gordon Toso, the park’s chief of maintenance, about necessary repairs. During a typical Crater Lake winter, more than 530 inches of snow fall.
Most of the storm damage was centered in Munson Valley, where the park headquarters, maintenance shops and most of its residences are located.
An unknown number of trees, mostly Shasta red firs and hemlocks, some 150 feet tall, fell. Most fell in forests along the road between the South Entrance and Munson Valley. Park maintenance crews removed several from park roads the morning after the storm.

“Coming to work the morning after was a strange sight,” Toso said.

Most damaged was the park’s community building, a two-story structure in the main housing area. It’s used for a range of activities, such as training sessions, community meetings, employee gatherings, as a nursery for preschoolers, park library and exercise area. Damage was done to the building’s exterior, but its interior was undamaged.
Taylor said three large trees fell on the community building’s roof. The park hired a crane crew to lift the trees off the building, but the 90-ton crane was unable to budge one, a large Shasta red fir. A bulldozer was used to eventually drag the tree off the building.

The comfort station at the Goodbye Bridge picnic area was also damaged, crunched by a fallen tree. Other falling trees poked holes in the roof of a park residence in the Sleepy Hollow area of Munson Valley and the new roof on Building 20, the former chief interpreter’s residence that is being converted to a Crater Lake Science and Learning Center.
“We stabilized everything to prevent further damage,” Toso said.

Trees that fell in the housing area will be removed next summer, but those in the neighboring woods will be left to eventually decay and rot. Until they are covered with snow, many of the tumbled trees, root balls and all, are easily visible from the road.
“Most of these trees were not hazard trees,” Toso said. “They look like they were very healthy.”

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