A panoramic photo of a volcanic landscape dotted with snow.
View from Brokeoff Mountain on January 19, 2014 during a multi-year drought.

NPS Photo


Lassen Volcanic National Park is Experiencing Severe Drought

The east side of the park (Plumas and Lassen counties) is in Exceptional Drought. The west side of the park (Tehama and Butte counties) is in Severe Drought as of 6/29/2021. View a map of drought in California by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Snow-coverd Sulphur Works
Snow-covered Sulphur Works

NPS Photo

California Water Comes from Snow

Snowmelt contributes 75% of all water in streams throughout the west. Water from the winter snowpack in Lassen Volcanic feeds four different watersheds. These watersheds are part of the CA State Water Project which delivers water to two-thirds of California's population plus supplemental water to approximately 25 million Californians and about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland. Reduced snowpack, warmer wintertime temperatures, and earlier spring melt depletes these crucial snow-based reservoirs.

Every drop counts graphic

What Can You Do to Conserve Water?

It takes millions of little raindrops and snowflakes to fill our water reservoirs. Millions of little actions can help keep them full. What will be your contribution?

  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing your hands.
  • Report leaks or running faucets and toilets to park staff.
  • Try to keep your shower under five minutes to save up to 1,000 gallons per month.
  • Collect water used while waiting for your shower to heat up to water your plants or pour into your washing machine.
  • Wait until your dishwasher is full to run it.
  • Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks. One drip every second adds up to five gallons per day!
  • Learn about 100+ ways to conserve at wateruseitwisely.com.
Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center opening
Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center opening

NPS Photo

What is Lassen Doing to Conserve Water?

Lassen is committed to sustainably managing your national park land and taking action to respond to climate change.

  • Upgraded water systems in the Mineral headquarters area to eliminate water loss.
  • Using a water-recycling car wash and washing vehicles only as needed.
  • Installing low flow or dual flow toilets in new buildings or as replacements.

  • Winterizing outdoor spigots to prevent pipes from leaking or bursting.

  • Using water-saving aerators.

  • Maintaining the water-efficient Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center (LEED Platinum rated).

A black bear crosses a snow field in search of food
A black bear crosses a melting snow field in the spring.

NPS Photo

How Does Drought Affect Wildlife?

Lassen receives up to 30 feet of snow between November and May each year. Wildlife here are well-adapted to the cold and snow and can be significantly impacted by drought:

  • Marmots, ground squirrels, and bears may emerge from hibernation earlier in the spring due to warming temperatures and lack of snowfall, or not hibernate at all. Without adequate food sources, these animals face the risk of starvation.
  • Amphibians require water to reproduce, and low snowpack and earlier spring melt can decrease the number of ponds or ponds may evaporate before eggs can hatch. Drought can cause animals to congregate at water sources, making them more vulnerable to predation.
  • Limited water and food in the park can cause animals to expand their foraging area, increasing the possibility of wildlife-human interactions.
Pines killed by mountain pine beetle in Colorado
Pines killed by mountain pine beetle in Colorado

Jeffrey A. Hicke, University of Idaho

How Does Drought Affect Trees?

Drought leaves trees thirsty and stressed. With warmer, drier conditions, trees are more likely to become infected with insects. At Lassen, the native Jeffrey pine beetle bore into the trees and lay their eggs, eventually killing the tree. Park staff are currently implementing efforts to lessen the impact of pine beetles on susceptible old growth Jeffrey pines in the Manzanita Lake area. What will you do to protect Lassen's oldest trees?

Area severely affected by fire
Area severely affected by fire

NPS Photo

How Does Drought Effect Fire?

Hot temperatures and dry conditions are a major contributor to an increase in the likelihood and severity of wildfires. Lassen’s winter snowpack normally provides moisture that helps mitigate fire danger well into August. With precipitation far below normal, conditions in the park are similar to what we would typically see in the fall. Without a sufficient snowpack, Lassen can expect to see increased fire danger earlier in the year and for a longer period of time.


Last updated: July 13, 2021

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PO Box 100
Mineral, CA 96063


530 595-4480

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