portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

forest defense

ON THE ROAD TO DISASTER AT MT ST. HELENS

Putting 20 miles of Road through a roadless area would undo the good job of road ripping done in 1980 when Mt St Helens erupted. Both of the road options being studied would carve thru wild landscapes that are still forming, and fragment 5 trails. This area should be left alone, as congress intended when granting it monument status.
ON THE ROAD TO DISASTER AT MOUNT ST. HELENS

Thanks to the one liner slipped into the 2000 Washington State Transportation Bill, the Washington State Dept. of Transportation has been given funding to do a feasibility study on building more than 20 miles of new road into the Mount St. Helen's volcanic Monument. Thanks to the great road ripping work of the 1980 eruption, the road which used to run up to Spirit Lake now stops at the Johnston Bridge Observatory west of Spirit Lake. The planned extension of State Route 504, however, would push yet another high impact road into a biologically and geologically unique roadless area despite its monument status.

The purpose of the WS DOT feasibility study is to "determine the economic, engineering and environmental viability of connection SR 504 to state and federal roads in the vicinity of Mt/ St. Helen's National Volcanic Monument." They have narrowed their route options from fourteen down to two. The DOT is refusing, of course, to consider a "no new Roads" option instead stating that they will pick a road option that is "most feasible."

Following the eruption, much of the blast area was subjected to brutal "salvage" logging and plantation style tree planting. However, Congress dedicated the monument landscape to living at its own terms and at its own pace. Both of the road options being studied would carve through wild landscapes that are still forming geologically and biologically. One of the proposed routes would go east between the volcano and Spirit Lake to hook up with Forest Service road 99. This would cut through the heart of the monument and the large roadless areas created by Loowit ("as Mt. St. Helen's was called in pre-colonial times.") It would undercut the largest landslide in reported history and would fragment or destroy five trails. The other proposed route from Coldwater Ridge north to Highway 12 at Glenoma would tear through the ancient forest of the Green River Valley.

The destruction of native forest has shown how roads alter the landscape, impact plant and animal communities, fragment trails, cause erosion, and degrade wetlands and waterways. Roads are very effective at introducing weeds, garbage, poaching, noise, and pollution into forest habitats. WS DOT cannot be trusted to generate a route that is economically and environmentally sound because it would be impossible. According to the study, the SR 504 extension would have between 14 and 33 waterway crossings. Anything under 20 crossings was considered minimum impact.

It's very important that this project not make it past the feasibility study phase. It doesn't make sense to be putting money into this when there are more cost-effective ways to improve the economies of the surrounding counties. These include better funding for restoration, road decommissioning and road maintenance projects in the surrounding Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

RESIST THE 504 ROAD EXTENSION!!!


Check out a map and other information at the feasibility study web site: www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr504/


Comment on the study by writing or calling:
Brian McMullen, Corridor Studies Planner
WSDOT Southwest Regional Office
POB 1709, Vancouver, WA 98668
(360) 905-2055  mcmulb@wsdot.wa.gov

Come to the public meetings on the road extension

March 27th (Tuesday) 6:30-8:30 at Rock Creek Recreation Center, Stevenson, WA

March 29th (Thursday) 6:30-8:30 at Twin Cities Senior Center, Chehalis, WA

Carpooling Info: (503) 241-4879