|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||May 17, 2011|
|Contact:||Mark Plotkin, Cowlitz County Tourism Bureau: 360-577-3137
Mark Smith, Eco Park Resort: 360-749-4050
Sean Smith, NPCA: 206-818-4041 (c)
Jessica Walz, Gifford Pinchot Task Force: 503-467-8007
Supporters Gather to Show Support for Making Mount St. Helens a National Park
Rally coincides with 31st anniversary of eruption in 1980
Portland, Oregon –Local business owners, elected officials, and community members are staging a rally tomorrow, May 18, on the 31st anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, to show support for elevating Mount St. Helens to a National Park and transferring management to the National Park Service.
“Elevating Mount St. Helens to a national park will give our local visitor industry a tremendous boost and boy could we use it,” said Mark Smith, owner of Eco Park Resort. “As a geologic feature of international stature, we should be able to compete with Washington’s national parks. But without it being designated a national park, we’re just not seeing the visitation.”
National park designation could provide local gateway communities such as Kelso, Vancouver, Castle Rock, and Amboy with significant economic growth. National parks support $13.3 billion of local private-sector economic activity and 267,000 private-sector jobs.
According to a study by the University of Washington, adding Mount St. Helens to the National Park System would improve the region’s economic health by creating jobs and growing the tourist economies of the volcano’s gateway communities. And 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 is one of America's crown jewels,” said Mark Plotkin, of the Cowlitz County Tourism Bureau. “It deserves to be elevated to our country’s highest honor, a National Park."
“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 Policy 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 our grandchildren.”
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.