New trails, campgrounds envisioned for Mount St. Helens
Last fall the Gifford Pinchot National Forest unveiled a 5-year strategic investment plan that includes a call for more recreation facilities including campsites and trails. To hear more about where these projects are being planned, come to the Southwest Washington Hiker Potluck tonight. Community Engagement specialists, Lisa Romano, will present on some key highlights of the strategic investment plan including a new trail that WTA volunteers may be able to begin building as early as fall 2012. For details and to RSVP visit WTA's event page.
The plan follows the recommendations of the Mount St. Helens Citizens Advisory Committee, a group tasked by Washington's Congressional Delegation with coming up with a vision for the future of the Monument. Throughout the process the National Parks Conservation Association advocated for a change in management that would have turned Mount St. Helen's into the newest National Park. But in the end the committee recommended that the Forest Service retain management of the mountain for now.
Besides adding options for camping and new trails, the new strategic plan aims to address other important recommendations in the Advisory Committee's final report including improved roads, better funding for education and interpretive activities, reinvestment in the Coldwater Visitor Center, and a continued commitment to scientific research.
Recognizing that volunteers and partnerships will be essential to meeting their goals, the Forest Service hosted a celebration last Friday at the newly renamed Science and Learning Center at Coldwater. Planned improvements to the site will provide overnight accommodations for volunteer groups, researchers and students. But according to a recent article in the Columbian, the facility will not be open to the general public, but rather for special events.
Hope to see you tonight!