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Changes for Crater Lake

Tom Banse
08/14/2002

Oregon's only national park celebrates its centennial later this month. Park officials at Crater Lake plan some changes for the second hundred years. They want to make sure the dramatic natural scenery keeps center stage. Parking, tours, and commercial activity are being tweaked -- as in other western parks. Correspondent Tom Banse has more from Crater Lake.

SOUND: [PEOPLE BOARDING BOAT TOUR]

THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO GET ON THE TURQUOISE WATERS OF AMERICA'S DEEPEST LAKE. YOU HIKE DOWN A ONE-MILE TRAIL FROM THE CRATER RIM AND BOARD A POWDER BLUE, PRIVATE TOUR BOAT.

SOUND: [BOAT HORN] AS OF THIS SUMMER, CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK SUPERINTENDENT CHUCK LUNDY SAYS THE NUMBER OF TOURS HAS BEEN PURPOSELY CUT BACK… FROM NINE TO SEVEN A DAY.

Lundy: "The desire was to have extended periods when there are no boats and no visible wake on the lake."

SOUND: [PARKING LOT AMBIENCE]

OTHER CHANGES ARE A FOOT UP ON THE CRATER RIM. AN EMPLOYEE HOUSING DORMITORY IS SLATED BE TORN DOWN AND MOVED ABOUT FIVE MILES DOWNHILL. A BIG, BARN SHAPED CAFETERIA, RESTAURANT, AND GIFT SHOP WILL BE RETURNED TO ITS MUCH SMALLER ROOTS. SUPERINTENDENT LUNDY SAYS THE LARGE PARKING LOT IN FRONT, FACING THE LAKE WILL ALSO BE TORN UP AND MOVED OUT OF SIGHT.

Lundy: "And thus as visitors come to the park, probably beginning around 2004 or 2005, when they arrive, the first thing they'll see will be Crater Lake, and not a sea of automobiles and black asphalt."

Lundy says Crater Lake is following a national trend to reduce the human footprint at park service jewels.

Lundy: "If you look historically, if we go back 50 or 75 years, there was a need, there was a requirement for a lot of facilities in these remote locations. As time has gone on and as facilities have improved outside of these parks, whether they are restaurants or hotels or gift stores, whatever that might be, the desirability and/or the requirement for those kinds of visitor services IN the parks became much less."

ELSEWHERE IN THE WEST, SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK IN CALIFORNIA HAS TORN DOWN AN ENTIRE VILLAGE OF CABINS, 3 GIFT SHOPS, 2 RESTAURANTS AND ROADS TUCKED BETWEEN THE FAMOUS GIANT TREES. THE SEQUOIA GROVE IS BEING RESTORED WHILE THE VISITOR AMENITIES ARE REPLACED AT LEAST FOUR MILES AWAY. DURING THE LAST OFF-SEASON, DENALI NATIONAL PARK TORE DOWN AN AGING MOTEL INSIDE THE ALASKAN PARK AND HAD IT REBUILT OUTSIDE THE GATES. SOME OF THE CABINS AND PARKING IN YOSEMITE VALLEY WIPED OUT DURING A RECENT FLOOD WILL NOT BE REPLACED. VISITORS WILL HENCEFORTH BE ENCOURAGED TO LEAVE THEIR CARS AND OVERNIGHT OUTSIDE THE CROWDED PARK AND RIDE IN ON SHUTTLE BUSES. AT CRATER LAKE, VISITORS TAKING IN THE MAGNIFICENT VIEWS HAD MIXED REACTIONS TO THIS PARK'S REDEVELOPMENT. JOYCE NORTHCUTT FROM CROSSVILLE, TENNESSE WELCOMES THE RENEWED EMPHASIS ON NATURE.

Northcutt: "Yeah, I like that. I really like that. I think it would focus more on the lake."

BUT DAN GLENN OF LAKE OSWEGO WANTS THE CONVENIENCE OF A WELL-STOCKED GIFT SHOP AND ROOMY CAFETERIA ON THE RIM.

Glenn: "You still have as you can see if you want to walk a zillion miles of trails and whatever you'd like to do. I'd rather have them leave it, if they want to make it nice. It looks nice to me."

THE BIG COMPANIES THAT OPERATE PARK BUSINESSES SAY THEY WANT TO PRESERVE REASONABLE VISITOR SERVICES WHILE SUPPORTING CONSERVATION GOALS. THE SECRETARY OF THE NATIONAL PARK HOSPITALITY ASSOCIATION, DICK GORDON, SAYS CRATER LAKE IS TAKING DECOMMERCIALIZATION TOO FAR.

Gordon: "I mean, you can't take food seven miles away from where all the people are going to be, for example. From my perspective, it's not customer oriented and also I think you're going to end up with a lot more cars on the road which is obviously you're talking about pollution."

GORDON'S COMPANY LAST YEAR GAVE UP ITS BUSINESS CONTRACTS AT CRATER LAKE RATHER THAN AGREE TO NEW OPERATING CONDITIONS. THE PARK SERVICE CONTENDS IT SOUGHT -- AND RECEIVED -- BROAD PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE CHANGES IT'S NOW CARRYING OUT. CONGRESS HAS APPROVED MOST OF THE SPENDING FOR THE REDEVELOPMENT AND RESTORATION PROJECTS AT CRATER LAKE AND ELSEWHERE IN THE PARK SYSTEM. I'M TOM BANSE AT CRATER LAKE, OREGON.

Weblinks:

  • National Park Service
  • Crater Lake National Park centennial page
  • National Park Hospitality Association
  • 06.21.18

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