West Panhandle Forest Restoration Project
Ultimately, the plan would provide a framework for thinning the dense mixed conifer forest to allow for subsequent prescribed burning to be used to maintain the more open forest structure typical of this ecosystem prior to a century of full wildfire suppression. Thinning would be accomplished using wheeled or tracked forestry equipment; the trees selected for thinning and slash would be off-hauled from the Park.
The specific objectives of the NPS West Panhandle Forest Restoration Project are:
1. Increasing the probability of survival of old, shade-intolerant overstory trees (including five-needle pines) by reducing competition;
2. Reducing the probability of high severity fire by reducing crown fuel continuity;
3. Increasing landscape-scale heterogeneity by creating a mosaic of stand and patch structures (including an increase in understory diversity);
4. Promoting ponderosa pine overstory recruitment by creating regeneration opportunities and shifting species composition;
5. Reducing conifer competition in small aspen groves and stands of five-needle pines; and
6. Creating a fuels condition that would allow for effective implementation of prescribed fire treatments in the Panhandle per the Crater Lake National Park Fire Management Plan (FMP).
Ed Waldron, Fire Management Officer, Crater Lake National Park,
The National Park Service is currently soliciting public input in anticipation of the preparation of a forest restoration plan in the southeastern portion of the park known as "The Panhandle." The National Park Service (NPS) hopes to develop this plan to restore forest structure, promote vital ecosystem components and reduce the potential for a catastrophic wildfire to occur in the western portion of the Panhandle area of Crater Lake National Park (the Park). The Panhandle area of the Park is a roughly 2.4-mile long tip of land extending from the Park's southern boundary along Highway 62. The West Panhandle Forest Restoration Project is proposed for the 507-acre portion of the Panhandle west of Annie Creek (see West Panhandle Project Area).