Powerful and Significant
Other than volcanic activity, wildland fire may be the most powerful and significant natural process that has shaped the southern Cascade Mountain ecosystems. Virtually all vegetation communities show evidence of fire dependence or tolerance. Recent research shows that several forest types in the park have been shaped by the return of frequent fires (ranging from 9 to 37 years).
Data accumulated from 1999 to 2018 reveals that an average of 16.1 fires occur per year within Crater Lake National Park. Most wildland fires are ignited by lightning but every year an average of two fires are human caused. These fires pose a greater threat to human health and property. In 2016 there were only nine fires in the park and all of them were caused by people.
A total of ten fires consumed over 20 thousand acres in 2017. The burned forest remains part of a fully functioning ecosystem. Grasses and other herbaceous plants are thriving in the burned areas where they did not grow before the wildlifes. This provides more areas where animals can forage.