Water Quality – 04 Section 1: Overview of Klamath Network Aquatic Resources

Klamath Network Water Quality Report (Phase II)

Section 1: Overview of Klamath Network Aquatic Resources


The Klamath Network park units (Figure 2) occur in a rugged region of exceptional and complex climate, topography, and geology; and the aquatic resources within the network are very diverse. Crater Lake National Park (Crater Lake) is responsible for managing the clearest and seventh deepest (592 m, 1942 ft) caldera lake in the world. In addition, Crater Lake contains deep lake thermal areas, small ponds outside of the Mt. Mazama caldera, numerous streams and springs, and several important wetland areas. Lassen Volcanic National Park (Lassen) includes the largest concentration of freshwater lentic systems in the network, with over 250 ponds and lakes (many of which have never been inventoried), as well as several major stream drainages, geothermal areas, and sphagnum bogs along lake margins. Lava Beds National Monument (Lava Beds) has limited surface water, although Tule Lake and the Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge are present near the northern border of the Monument. Lava Beds does, however, have approximately 28 known ice caves that are an important source of water for wildlife and, historically, for humans. Oregon Caves National Monument (Oregon Caves) is a small unit with only one stream, Cave Creek. The creek flows through the main cave and wet meadows, and seeps are present in the upper canyon of the creek. Parts of Cave Creek are directly affected by visitors touring the cave. Redwood National and State Parks (Redwoods) have marine and freshwater aquatic resources. Marine resources include over 60 km (36 mi) of coastal marine habitat extending 0.4 km (0.25 mi) offshore and coastal estuaries and lagoons. Freshwater resources include Redwood and Mill Creeks and their watersheds, and slope fens and seeps. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (Whiskeytown) contains a large reservoir (Whiskeytown Lake) created by the damming of Clear Creek, as well as many perennial and intermittent tributary streams. Historically, mining was a common enterprise within WHIS and as a result acid mine drainage and mercury contamination are of major concern. WHIS also contains the only known global population of Howell’s alkali grass (Puccinellia howellii) which is restricted to a mesosaline fen in the park.

National Park Service Water Resources Division Baseline Water Quality Inventory

The baseline water quality inventory is part of a National Park Service Water Resources Division program to develop baseline water-quality information for key resources in National Park Service units throughout the United States. A Klamath Network baseline inventory is in progress (i.e., 2005) at Lava Beds, Lassen, and Oregon Caves. The inventory is being conducted by personnel from the USGS Western Ecological Research Center located in Arcata, California. The following parameters have been measured for all water bodies selected for the inventory during the first of two sampling seasons scheduled to begin in 2005: alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, temperature and discharge (where applicable). Additional parameters measured for select water bodies include fecal and total coliform, chloride, fluoride, nitrate and sulfate.