Crater Lake National Park: Ecology Of Elk Inhabiting Crater Lake National Park And Vicinity
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Study Area


Results and Discussion

Management Implications

Literature Cited

Appendix A

Study Area

Movements of elk were investigated within CRLA and in surrounding lowlands south and west of the park. The study area encompassed three geographic areas corresponding to the seasonal ranges of elk, including: (1) much of the south and west side of CRLA (summer range), (2) portions of the Rogue River National Forest on the west slope of the Cascades (winter range), and (3) the Winema National Forest on the east slope, south of the park (spring range). Private and state-owned lands were common at low elevations adjacent to the Rogue River and Winema National Forests.

The study area lies between 43°00' and 42°44' latitude and 122°02'30" and 122°07'00" longitude in the southern High Cascade and western Cascades physiographic provinces (Franklin and Dyrness 1973). The dominant physiographic feature in and around the park is Crater Lake itself, the remnant of the ancestral Mount Mazama. The surrounding landscape is dominated by Mount Scott, Union and Crater Peaks, several lesser volcanic cones, and extensive pumice flats and lava flows. Lowlands of the Rogue Valley to the west of CRLA contain broad east to west-facing valleys separated by steep densely forested uplands. East slopes of the Cascades bordering on the Upper Klamath Basin are typified by deep pumice soils, steep, heavily dissected topography, and a series of west to east-flowing perennial streams flowing into the Klamath Basin. Elevations in the study area ranged from 2600 ft near Prospect in the Rogue Valley to 8926 ft on Mount Scott, the highest point in CRLA. Elevations of the Fort Klamath meadowlands averaged approximately 4000 ft.

Climatic patterns are extremely variable throughout the study area, reflecting large elevational gradients and orographic effects of the Cascades Mountains. Overall, the region is characterized by warm, dry summers and cool, moist winters. Temperatures are lowest and precipitation greatest atop the Cascade Crest in CRLA. Annual precipitation exceeds 60 inches, most of which falls as snow (Phillips 1968). Total precipitation is less in Fort Klamath than in Prospect due to the orographic rain shadow, but because winter temperatures are cooler on the east side of the Cascades, significantly greater snowfall occurs in Fort Klamath than in Prospect.

Vegetation in the study area reflects the wide variation in elevation and moisture across the Cascade Mountains. The study area falls primarily within the mixed conifer, Shasta red fir (Abies magnifica shastensis), white fir (Abies concolor), and mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) vegetation zones (Franklin and Dyrness 1972).

High elevations within CRLA and the surrounding areas lie primarily within the white fir, Shasta red fir, and mountain hemlock forest zones (Franklin and Dyrness 1973). Additionally, Ziegler (1978) identified 11 communities dominated by lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) within Crater Lake National Park , four of which were considered climax on pumice soils. Oregon boxwood (Pachystima myrsinites), pine-mat manzanita, and western serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) were commonly reported shrub species, whereas sedges (Carex spp.), lupines (Lupinus spp.), grasses, and smooth woodrush (Luzula glabrata) were frequently reported in the understories.

Lowlands along the Rogue River fall primarily within the mixed conifer zone. Major forest tree species are Douglas-fir, white fir, incense cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla). Common shrubs and herbs include Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa), pine-mat manzanita (Arctostaphylous nevadensis), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), princes pine (Chimaphilla umbellata) and whipple vine (Whipplea modesta) in mature forest communities. Dense brushfields, dominated by deerbrush (Ceanothus spp.), are common in low-elevation cutover sites within the mixed conifer zone.

In east-slope forests along the Upper Klamath Basin, Hopkins (1979) reported nine climax forest associations dominated by lodgepole pine, white fir, Shasta red fir, and mountain hemlock, much the same as within the park. Common understory species included grouse huckleberry (Vaccinium scoparium), pine-mat manzanita, chinkapin (Castanopsis chrysophylla), snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and various sedges, grasses and forbs. Pasturelands abutting the forest in the Upper Klamath Basin are dominated by a variety of perennial grasses.

The mosaic of land-ownerships in the study area produce contrasting patterns of land management practices. The National Park Service adheres closely to a policy of wilderness preservation, whereas the USFS, state, and private owners manage lands primarily for wood-fiber or livestock production. Clearcutting, followed by slash-burning and reforestation, and partial-cutting are common land management practices on lands adjacent to CRLA.

Last Updated: 11-Aug-2016