Crater Lake National Park Natural Resources

Crater Lake National Park is an area of 249 square miles dedicated to the preservation of its natural resources. For many years, park managers have looked at this task as a job to be accomplished only for the enjoyment of its human visitors. As important as this goal remains to be, park personnel now take a more comprehensive view of the ecosystems and interactions within the environment we call Crater Lake National Park. Enabling legislation for Crater Lake National Park, set forth in 1902, mandates that this area be "dedicated and set apart forever as a public (park) or pleasure ground for the benefit of the people of the United States." (32 Stat. 202) This important law allows for the unfettered access to this unique area. In subsequent legislation, including the Organic Act which established the National Park Service, emphasis was placed on the management of natural areas in order to provide for preservation and protection. This law allows park resources to be managed so that they may remain unimpaired and in a natural state for future generations.

While Crater Lake is considered the primary scenic wonder at Crater Lake National Park, management of all the natural resources of the park is given equal weight. As no forest is independent from the streams that run through it or the geologic history which has given rise to its different kinds of soil, ecosystems are dynamic parts of the whole which function according to their inputs and outputs. For example, if down wood is removed from park streams, a major source of habitat for insects has been taken away. In turn, fish will suffer from the loss of a significant food source. In the end, it is not only the fisherman who will ache for their catch of yesteryear, but the bear, eagle, and other fish-catching animals will suffer even more. As such, Crater Lake National Park manages its ecosystems for the sustainability of all resources which are found in the park. Objectives of the park's Resource Management Plan include: securing adequate resource information through scientific research, conserving natural resources, promoting understanding of the geological and biological processes found within the park and how the public may access these resources without their deterioration, and preserving the cultural resources found within the park so that they may be enjoyed and understood by future visitors.

These objectives are carried out through many programs aimed at allowing natural processes to continue. For example, in areas where natural vegetation has been adversely affected or displaced, efforts are underway to re-vegetate the areas with native plants. Maps can be created from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to predict changes in the environment or in determining management actions . GIS technology is used to electronically store data on all aspects of the park's vegetation, soils, wildlife, and aquatic resources. Long-term studies have been initiated to monitor park ecosystems for changes which may occur at a snail's pace, yet which may harbor information useful to the entire globe. Crater Lake National Park is an environment with boundaries imposed only by man. Its connections to the world are as inseparable as a tree to its roots. The resource management staff at the park is responsible for overseeing that these connections remain unimpaired for time immemorial, so that generations to come may enjoy this special place. Further questions may be addressed to Crater Lake National Park Interpretation

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