Crater Lake will help clear brush
The Mail Tribune
August 1, 2006
By Mark Freeman
Federal officials plan to let a small lightning-caused fire burn all summer through a remote part of Crater Lake National Park, taking advantage of the flames to clear brush and improve wildlife habitat.
The so-called Bybee fire, which ignited during a spate of lightning July 23, had reached about 40 acres late Monday in the Bybee drainage along the park’s western slopes.
A special park service team of fire experts was called in from Whiskeytown, Calif., to manage the now-smoldering fire to shepherd its flames through remote, overgrown forestland, fire information officer Patti Would said Monday.
Crews will use basic fire-management tools to steer flames away from roads, structures, the park boundary and lands where other resource-protection issues arise, Would said.
“If necessary, they will set backfires and dig lines, basically, to herd it into areas where we want it,” said Would, who was sent to Crater Lake on detail from the Mount Rainier National Park in Washington.
This approach would continue until a “season-ending event,” such as a hefty fall rainstorm, quells the fire naturally, Would said.
“I expect this to go on all summer,” she said.
Fire specialists expect to see the eventual return of open meadows, snags for cavity-nesting birds and an overall healthier natural space, Would said.
“It’s good for wildlife,” she said. “The elk and deer will be happy.”
The fire on Monday has prompted closure of two trails: a 10-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail between the Dutton Creek and Bald Crater Loop trails and the Lightning Springs Trail. No re-opening date was set.
PCT hikers were advised to use the Rim Trail as a detour, but hikers using pack animals must trailer them around the detour because stock are banned on the Rim Trail, Would said.