Local Mayors, Community Leaders Join National Parks Conservation Association to Urge Rep. Baird to Elevate Mount St. Helens to National Park Status

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   August 28, 2007
Contact:   Sean Smith, Northwest Regional Director National Parks Conservation Association 206.903.1444 x21 or 206-818-4041 (c)


Local Mayors, Community Leaders Join National Parks Conservation Association to Urge Rep. Baird to Elevate Mount St. Helens to National Park Status

Letter to Rep. Brian Baird Coincides with Local Community Summit in Longview

Seattle, Washington – The National Parks Conservation Association today formally sent a letter to Rep. Brian Baird (D-3-WA) urging him to support designation of Mount St. Helens as a national park. The letter, signed by local mayors, community leaders, and numerous Washington state conservation and political leaders, coincides with a community summit today with Congressman Baird in Longview, which will discuss the benefits of national park status for Mount St. Helens, among other topics.

Recent budget cuts to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which includes Mount St. Helens, have resulted in significant reductions in visitor services and threaten the long-term protection of the volcano’s cultural and natural resources. This past April, the U.S. Forest Service announced plans to scale back visitor center operations at Mount St. Helens, including its intention to close the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center this fall.

“Mount St. Helens is a national gem.  The volcano and the surrounding communities deserve the recognition that come with national park status,” said the National Parks Conservation Association's Northwest Regional Director Sean Smith. “Placing Mount St. Helen’s under the care of the Park Service would ensure the volcano’s natural wonders are preserved for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”

National park designation could possibly provide local gateway communities such as Kelso, Vancouver, Castle Rock, and Amboy with significant economic growth. A recent study released by the National Parks Conservation Association found that for every federal dollar invested in a national park, four dollars in economic benefit are generated for local and state economies.

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, marking the first volcanic eruption in the continental United States in close to seventy years. Shortly after, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established, allowing for public access and recreation.

Today, Mount St. Helens is considered a national icon and an ecological treasure.  It contains some of the world’s largest lava tubes and offers an opportunity to observe a volcano’s impact on a landscape, as well as the ability of the land to restore itself following such destruction.

The National Parks Conservation Association is encouraging the community to weigh in on the status of Mount St. Helens, and has set up a blog with additional information: http://www.wedeserveapark.blogspot.com/

The letter to Representative Baird today was signed by the following individuals:

Don Gregory, Mayor of Kelso, Washington; Rep. Bill Fromhold, 49th District, Washington; Rep. Jim Moeller, 49th District, Washington; Sen. Craig Pridemore, 49th District, Washington; Barbara Larsen, Mayor of Castle Rock, Washington; Rep. Deb Wallace, 17th District, Washington; William Deters, President, The Mountaineers; Mark Taylor, President, WA Council of Trout Unlimited; Nina Carter, Executive Director, Washington Audubon Society; Mark Buser, President, Ice Age Floods Institute Lower Columbia Chapter; David Weekes, Washington State Director, The Nature Conservancy and Sean Smith, Northwest Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association.

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