Nature Notes

Volume XXXII-XXXIII - 2001/2002

Our Sponsor
By Steve Mark

exhibit brochure
Panel from an exhibit brochure: Superintendent C. G. Thomson greeting visitors about 1927.

Anyone entering the visitor contact stations at Crater Lake and Oregon Caves will probably notice shelves filled with books for sale. Proceeds from these and other sales items ultimately benefit the National Park Service, but are generated through the nonprofit Crater Lake Natural History Association. Merchandise sold allows CLNHA to fund a variety of endeavors that include park newspapers (Reflections at Crater Lake and Underworld at Oregon Caves), booklets on various educational topics, a program of research grants, and this publication.

The 1946 volume of Nature Notes from Crater Lake appeared as part of the association's launch as a "scientific and historical society to further the educational program of Crater Lake National Park." Its main source of revenue that year was not Nature Notes, but instead a book published by the University of California Press titled Crater Lake: the Story of Its Origin by Howel Williams. Publication of Williams' classic geological work spurred formation of the association in 1942, but wartime exigencies did not permit CLNHA to begin operation for another four years.

cover to Birds of Crater Lake book
Birds of Crater Lake National Park by Donald S. Farner.

Limited inventory carried by CLNHA in its early years made for modest sales, even with a steady increase of visitors coming to Crater Lake in the aftermath of World War II. The association confined itself to sponsoring Nature Notes and some illustrated lectures at first, waiting until 1952 to pursue a book project. Donald Farner's Birds of Crater Lake National Park ultimately proved to be a successful venture, though Chief Park Naturalist George Ruhle loaned CLNHA the necessary amount for it to be printed by the University of Kansas Press. The "scholarly" approach taken by Farner dictated slow sales for Birds, but Ruhle's Along Crater Lake Roads became an immediate hit when the association published it in 1953.

Another nine years passed before CLNHA embarked upon any new projects. Even Nature Notes experienced a hiatus by 1961, though some authors continued to submit articles in hopes that the serial might reappear when the time was right. Sales of commercially produced publications allowed for slow, but steady growth in association finances. Visitation increased to the point where one sales outlet, located at Lava Beds National Monument, broke away to form an independent association in 1962. (CLNHA even loaned LBNHA a sum of $500 to get started). Both organizations often expressed the desire to publish on topics specific to their parks, even though these usually possessed limited commercial appeal. Being conscious of costs helped to prevent disaster for CLNHA, and it benefited from moves like distributing publications to libraries in order to defray printing costs.

Once four CLNHA booklets appeared from 1962 to 1964, the next hiatus in publishing lasted for more than a decade. The association's sales grew slowly during the intervening 11 years, but by 1975 CLNHA supported new undertakings like the first surveyed map of Oregon Caves and a newspaper for Crater Lake. The paper quickly became the dominant beneficiary of CLNHA donations to the National Park Service, far outstripping older programs like aiding the park library.

Direct NPS participation in the management of CLNHA came to an end in 1978 when the office of executive secretary (usually held by the chief park naturalist or his equivalent) became simply a liaison with the association instead of running day to day operations. A business manager was hired by CLNHA for the latter duties, though spouses of NPS employees usually filled this position. The association's board, often dominated by park officials in CLNHA's early years, counted only four NPS employees among its 11 members by 1962. Over the ensuing two decades this body completely weaned itself of NPS affiliation. Board members control the association's affairs and are presently 13 in number. Some have opted to serve only for a short time, though one has rendered continuous service since 1962!

Publications of the Crater Lake Natural History Association.

By 1986 CLNHA made annual donations of a little more than $6,000 to the programs at Crater Lake and Oregon Caves. That figure quadrupled over the next four years with opening of a new visitor contact station in the rehabilitated Rangers Dormitory at Park Headquarters. Year round operations for CLNHA became possible, and allowed for the board to consider new ways to aid the educational and resource management functions of the NPS. One happened to be research grants, where a program modeled on one administered by the Mazamas (the mountaineering club started by park founder William Gladstone Steel) came into existence. An other endeavor was the revival of Nature Notes once the association sponsored a symposium celebrating the 90th anniversary of Crater Lake National Park in 1992.

Nature Notes from Crater Lake has operated on a break-even basis over the past decade, being entirely dependent upon contributions from past or present NPS employees and those offered by friends of the park. It has appeared on an annual basis over the past decade, a significant achievement since the only compensation authors received came as several free copies of the issue containing their article. CLNHA business managers Abi Buktenica, Judy Giles, and Laurie Pohll kept Nature Notes on the shelf, while Claire Cross, Susan Marvin, and Robin Savage supplied production assistance by doing layout. Board members deserve thanks for continuing to support publications whose sales potential rarely goes beyond being a public service. In this regard, CLNHA publications are listed below:

Donald S. Farner, Birds of Crater Lake National Park (1952)

George C. Ruhle, Along Crater Lake Roads (1953, rev. 1964)

Richard M. Brown, Castle Crest Nature Trail (1962)

G.L. Sternes, Climate of Crater Lake National Park (1963)

Roger J. Contor, The Underworld of Oregon Caves (1963)

Charles F. Yocum, Shrubs of Crater Lake National Park (1964)

Steve Knutson, Oregon Caves, survey map (1975)

Ruth Kirk, Exploring Crater Lake Country (1975)

Thomas McDonough, Grayback Ridge Motor Nature Trail (1976)

Dick Foliett, Birds of Crater Lake National Park (1979)

Constance M. Toops, Crater Lake National Park Trails (1980, last rev. 2000)

Ron and Becky Warfield (eds.), A Trail Guide to Annie Creek, as well as booklets on Castle Crest and Godfrey Glen (1983)

Ron Warfield, A Guide to Crater Lake: The Mountain That Used To Be (1985)

Steve Mark, See America First! exhibit brochure (1991)

Lee Juillerat, Lodge of the Imagination: The Crater Lake Lodge Story (1995)

Steve Mark, Park Headquarters Historic Walking Tour (1999)

Crater Lake Reflections newspaper, 1975 - present

Oregon Caves Underworld newspaper, 1986 - present

Nature Notes from Crater Lake 1946-1956, 1992-present; includes a special number by Ralph R. Huestis (1951)

Steve Mark is a National Park Service historian who serves Crater Lake National Park and Oregon Caves National Monument.

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