Map with colored areas depicting four watersheds in the park


Lassen Volcanic's mountains, lakes, streams, and meadows are all parts of a watershed or an area of land that is connected by the water that flows over it. Rain and melted snow travel downward within a watershed until it is captured, absorbed, or empties into the sea.

The park is comprised of four watersheds: Pit River, Battle Creek, Mill Creek, and North Fork Feather River. Lassen Volcanic is part of the Sierra Nevada region, which plays a critical role in California’s water system. More than 60 percent of California’s developed water supply originates in the region. The region's forests and meadows play important roles in ensuring water quality and reliability.


Working Together for Watershed Health

Lassen Volcanic is one of numerous organizations that are working together to improve watershed health and resilience. The quantity and quality of water from Sierra Nevada headwaters is threatened by overcrowded forests, degraded meadows, and a changing climate. Less crowded forests consume less and allow a deeper snowpack to develop. Unhealthy forests can result in increased flooding and landslides as well as a reduction in water quality and reservoir capacity.

Partnerships are crucial to addressing the landscape-level issue of watershed and forest health. See partnership in action on the park's North Fork Feather River Headwaters Forest Restoration Project, or learn more about watershed health partners:

Sierra Nevada Conservancy works though the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program (WIP), an initiative that takes a holistic approach to watershed and community resilience, to address some of the most pressing issues facing California.

Aided by Sierra Institute, the South Lassen Watersheds Group supports local partners in high priority, large-scale, multi-jurisdictional projects to improve forest and watershed health, reduce wildfire risk, protect critical habitat, and support local contractors and industry.

Also aided by Sierra Institute the
Burney-Hat Creek Community Forest & Watershed Group is working to improve social, environmental, and economic conditions in Burney Creek and Hat Creek watersheds (part of the Pit River Watershed).

Aided by the
Sierra Fund, the Bear Creek Watershed Group works to protect the resources of this 87,000 acre watershed by obtaining funding for continuing watershed management activities. (Located in eastern Shasta County)

Graphic depicting water sources: snowpack, rivers and reservoirs, and aquifers
Three types of natural water storage systems

Snowpack: Water When We Need it Most

Snowpack from the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges provide more than one-third of California's water. Snow, ice, and ground springs slowly release water that replenishes rivers, reservoirs, and aquifers in dry summer months.

Rising temperatures can cause snow to melt early or more precipitation to fall as rain. In response to a changing climate, water managers are identifying new ways to capture and store this precious resource. Learn more about drought in the park or how California measures its snowpack through snow surveys.

A boy plays with an augment reality sandbox
A young winter visitor digs into the sandbox with contour lines and elevation colors added by a projector mounted above.

Create Your Own Watershed

Lassen's high-tech, hands-on augmented reality (AR) sandbox lets you mold miniature mountains, lakes, and rivers and then add virtual rain showing runoff and watershed on the landscape you created. As you play with the sand, a projector adds a dynamic topographic map on top of it all, updating contour lines and elevation colors in real-time. You can even change the landscape during or after rainfall and see how different features affect the flow of water. The AR Sandbox is located in the park's year-round Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and is open for play during regular business hours. View a video of the sandbox in action below or on YouTube.

The AR Sandbox was donated to the park after being initially constructed for a local Maker Faire. Students from nearby Corning High School built the sandbox with support from Rolling Hills Foundation and Lassen Foundation board member Scott Chandler and his wife, Dorothy. Learn more about the original AR Sandbox at lakeviz.org.

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Visitors interact with an augmented reality sandbox that projects contour lines and elevation colors in real-time.

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    Last updated: February 4, 2023

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