Water Quality – 10 Oregon Caves National Monument

Klamath Network Water Quality Report (Phase II)

Section 3: Past Inventory, Monitoring, and Research Activities in the Klamath Network Park Units

Oregon Caves National Monument (ORCA)
Figure 7: Aquatic Resources and Watershed Boundaries of Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon, NPS Klamath Network

General Summary of Past Activities: Oregon Caves National Monument has focused on documenting the baseline water quality of pools, springs and streams in or near the park unit cave system. The physical characteristics and magnitude of potential direct human impacts on park unit aquatic resources also have been inventoried and continue to be monitored.

Oregon Caves National Monument (Figure 7) was established on July 12, 1909, under the U.S. Forest Service, specifically to protect the cave system. It was transferred to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. In February 1992, a large portion of the developed area in the monument was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Oregon Caves (194 ha; 480 ac) is located in the Siskiyou/Klamath bioregion of southwestern Oregon. Although Oregon Caves is a small unit, its forest communities are a diverse representation of the larger bioregion. Old growth Douglas fir, white fir and oak forests cover the majority of the monument, providing diverse microhabitats for the monument’s nearly 500 plant species, and an estimated 5,000 animal and 2,000 fungal species; which are among the highest catalogued biota per acre for any national park unit (John Roth, ORCA, personal communication). Federally threatened and endangered species that reside in or utilize the monument include the northern spotted owl, bald eagle, and peregrine falcon. Two of the 20 federal and state species of concern in the monument are the Del Norte Salamander (Plethedon elongates) and Western Toad (Bufo boreas). The amphibian species are, respectively, a species of concern and a sensitive species in the State of Oregon. The cave pools, springs and streams of Oregon Caves are considered important water resources for wildlife.