Mount St. Helens: ‘Spoof’ | The Seattle Times

I appreciate Francisco Valenzuela’s op-ed on the sad state of Mount St. Helens, but he missed the most dire aspect.

In 2013, the Forest Service (using taxpayer money and volunteer labor) created a new trail at the monument, Crater View Trail. Driving to the mouth of the crater, this promised to be the most spectacular experience on the mountain, more spectacular than the top. The plan was for the route to be open to the public with a permit system.

But the route was never opened to the public. Instead, the Mount St. Helens Institute (MSHI) decided that access would only be granted through their guided tours, for which they charge $819 per person for a 10-mile hike per day. In other words, the most spectacular route up the mountain is reserved exclusively for the wealthy. This is not public land; it’s a country club.

I tried to contact the US Forest Service (USFS) about this embarrassing situation, and they referred me to the MSHI. So I contacted MSHI and he referred me back to the USFS. It seems that there is no responsibility. Perhaps turning the monument into a national park would be a way to correct this charade.

Jason Styles, Bellingham

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