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Crater Lake water crisis. Crater Lake faces significant cutbacks. Yearly budget trimmed by $150,000. Water quality worriesCRATER LAKE — Ongoing impacts from federal sequestration, automatic spending cuts that took effect earlier this year and are expected to continue in 2014, may mean cutbacks in programs at Crater Lake National Park.
Supt. Craig Ackerman said the ongoing automatic cuts created by sequestration and an expected 1 percent federal pay raise will impact the park’s budget by $100,000 to $150,000 in 2014, or 2 to 3 percent of the park’s current operating budget of $5 million. Combined with previous cuts, the new cuts would mean the park’s budget has been reduced more than $500,000 since 2012.This year’s sequestration cuts were handled by not filling some vacant positions that resulted from transfers or retirements. He said the next round will likely result in the continued closure of the Lost Creek Campground, eliminating most seasonal positions and halting non-essential snowplowing, which means the East Rim Drive would be required to melt on its own.
“You are likely to see a significantly reduced presence at the park,” Ackerman said.Future budget reductions at Crater Lake, Oregon’s only national park, could result in cuts to permanent staff that might result in combining various jobs. 1,200 school youth were turned away because of gov. shutdown
Ackerman said it’s unknown if the ongoing impasse over the federal budget will result in another federal government shutdown in January. He said last summer’s 16-day shutdown resulted in the loss of an estimated $15,000 to $25,000 in park entrance fees, and also impacted income to Xanterra, the park concessionaire that operates the Crater Lake Lodge and other park facilities, and the Crater Lake Trolley. Xanterra officials estimated the shutdown cost the company more than $300,000.Ironically, the lost fees and visitation came during a year that, based on early figures, was among the busiest. Receipts from park entrance fees and Crater Lake Natural History Association outlets were higher than in previous years.
“I’ve never seen it so busy,” Marsha McCabe, the park’s chief of interpretation, said of last summer’s visitation.McCabe said the parking area by the administration building was opened to handle overflow parking in the Munson Valley area. At times, Rim Village was closed because their parking areas were completely filled.
She also lamented an impact of the federal shutdown, noting more than 1,200 school youth who had planned visits through the school-in-the-parks program were turned away — “That was one of the saddest parts of the closure.” Efforts were made to fill openings when the park reopened, but not always email@example.com
Water quality worriesConcerns about invasive species possibly impacting Crater Lake’s water quality are causing park officials to look at permanently banning scuba diving and other lake activities.
“I don’t think anybody wants to see the water quality go down or to see the water anything but blue,” Crater Lake National Park Supt. Craig Ackerman said of ongoing concerns about the lake quality. Based on various studies, Crater Lake has the best quality of any lake in the United States.The videos of people scuba diving and swimming across the lake went viral, resulting in a flurry of requests for similar outings. Unless the park can perform tests to ensure tanks, fins and other gear have no invasive species — something he said the park cannot afford to do — it’s possible an invasive species could enter the lake.
While some critics discount whether various invasive species could survive the lake’s bitterly cold winters, Ackerman noted people a century ago also questioned whether fish planted in the lake by William Steel, the “Father of Crater Lake,” could reproduce.“Look what happened,” he said of the lake’s still prolific fish populations.
A waterfall along one of the many trails at Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake is protected and therefore its waters are not used for park operations. Instead, the park draws 69,000 gallons of water daily from streams. That water is in jeopardy of being cut off.
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Page Updated: Sunday November 24, 2013 12:38 AM Pacific
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