Resources 1984 – O. Provisions of the Crater Lake Act

Historic Resource Study, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 1984

VI. Steps Leading Toward Establishment of Crater Lake National Park

O. Provisions of the Crater Lake Act

The act of 1902 establishing the 249-square-mile park reserved and withdrew the land from settlement, occupancy, or sale “and set apart forever as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit of the people of the United States, [an area] to be known as Crater Lake National Park.” [38] The act provided that, subject to regulation, the park would be open to the location of mining claims and the working of same:

It was not the purpose of this provision to extend the mining laws to the reservation without limitation, but only to authorize the location and working of mining claims thereon . . . in such manner as not to interfere with or prejudicially affect the general purposes for which the reservation was established. [39]

This provision remained in effect for thirteen years, until August 21, 1916, when a congressional act removed the mining claim location provision from the Crater Lake Park Act of 1902. Conservationists had fought mining interests throughout this period and were finally able to convince Congress not only that there were no large-scale mineral deposits within the park boundaries but that mining was incompatible with the primary purposes of a national park.

Other provisions stated that the secretary of the interior was to protect timber from “wanton depredation” and that there were to be no settlements permitted or lumbering, “Provided, That said reservation shall be open, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe, to all scientists, excursionists, and pleasure seekers. . . .” [40]

A few weeks after the park was established, Congress appropriated $2,000 for park protection. Not surprisingly, no funds were budgeted for development or maintenance purposes. The War Department was given jurisdiction over the area. In parks placed under military control, superintendents were often political appointees. A lack of private income and of political connections combined to deny Steel the honor of being Crater Lake National Park’s first superintendent. William F. Arant of Klamath Falls served from 1902 to 1913, and then Steel, dubbed the “Father of Crater Lake,” filled the position until resigning in 1917 to accept the post of U.S. Commissioner of the National Park Service, in which office he died in 1934. [41]


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