In 1984 a small group of "Lassen" visitors gathered with then park superintendent Bill Stephenson to discuss starting a foundation to support projects in the national park. The later group incorporated as the Lassen Park Foundation and began its work to assist the National Park Service in raising private funds to do those things for which Federal funding fell short. Foremost in their thoughts was the creation of a true visitor center for Lassen Volcanic NP, which at the time was one of a few major national parks without a formal visitor center.
Creation of “Lassen Crossroads”
When initial hopes to build a visitor center through the use of private funds were not realized, the Foundation recognized that Federal funds were necessary. Further, a Federally-imposed moratorium on building new visitor centers was in effect. It was not until 1994 that an appropriation, carried by a local congressman, allocated $384,000 for a visitor center at Lassen Volcanic National Park. In the meantime, the cost of the Foundation’s initial plans had risen, requiring that the project be redesigned. The redesign culminated in a joint project that brought together the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and Lassen Park Foundation to construct "Lassen Crossroads", a visitor orientation facility outside the northern entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Dedicated in 2000, this facility is an unstaffed and seasonal orientation center which acquaints visitors with what they can see and do in the national park and on U.S. Forest lands.
A Visitor Center at LVNP's Southwest Entrance
In 2000, Superintendent Marilyn H. Parris proposed erecting a year-round visitor center at the southwest entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park. In the summer of 2005, Parris' successor, Mary Martin, arrived and oversaw completion of the design concept. Her successor, Darlene M. Koontz, dedicated the new Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center on Sept. 20, 2008.
Today’s Lassen Park Foundation
Although the route we were forced to take was circuitous, our initial 1984 goal of building a visitor center at Lassen Volcanic National Park was attained because the staff at Lassen Volcanic National Park with the Lassen Park Foundation and its many volunteers and contributors were determined to get there. Similar resolve by the NPS and LPF is now being directed toward renovating the Lassen Peak Trail. We intend to reach the peak, just as we did in helping the NPS build a visitor center. We will do that, without giving away any of the many other things we do to improve visitor experiences and the environment of the greater LVNP region. The Foundation is committed to continuing to introduce deserving kids to national park and forest camping experiences and to funding important environmental studies and projects that would not otherwise occur without private donations. We hope you will join with us in creating history in the Lassen area.