Mount St. Helens - Columbia Land Trust

Mount St. Helens

The Swift Reservoir south of Mount St. Helens
  • Number of Projects:4
  • Acreage: 20000
  • Fact: Most species that were wiped out by the Mount St. Helens eruption have returned. One species that hasn’t? Northern flying squirrels. They need mature forests to survive.
  • Experience: South of this iconic volcano is a dramatic landscape of forests, lahar and talused slopes—all of it criss-crossed by streams whose source is Mount St. Helens itself.
  • What We’re Doing: Protecting working forests and local jobs on a landscape-scale by preventing development on timberlands. Permanently protecting a creek (and surrounding forestland) that is critical habitat to endangered bull trout.
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The Big Picture

For sheer visual drama, few places compare to our Mount St. Helens conservation area on the south side of the volcano. This is a land of lahar, coldwater creeks, little-traveled trails, and old forests: the Gifford Pinchot National Forest alone encompasses some 1.3 million acres. Columbia Land Trust began working here after when local developers began converting cut-over timberlands into suburban-style subdivisions. We created a partnership with Skamania County and Pope Resources with a goal of placing 85% of their 24,000-acre holding into various forms of conservation.  After working with the community and many other partners, we developed a plan that benefits everyone—and keeps runaway housing development in check. In June 2018, we, completed the fourth phase of this effort and achieved our goal of conserving 20,000 acres of forestland. Watch our documentary film As She Grows about the project.

Why It Matters

Bull trout, Chinook, coho, steelhead, northern spotted owl, gray wolf, bald eagle, Roosevelt elk, deer, wolverine: This area is a stronghold for many of great animals that define the Northwest. It’s also a stronghold for forestry jobs. Our goal is to provide habitat for wildlife and protect land-connected livelihoods by ensuring that unchecked development doesn’t replace productive forestlands or harm the habitat around Pine Creek. In 2013, we purchased 2,330 acres around this cold water creek. The land contains some nine miles of the creek and a major tributary; both provide some of the last remaining habitat for endangered bull trout in Washington State.

Rep. Herrera Beutler and Senator Cantwell admire the celebratory cake design.
Featured Story

[In the News] Mount St. Helens Celebration

National elected officials help commemorate a monumental achievement on Mount St. Helens.

On Monday, September 10, Columbia Land Trust hosted a gathering with project partners to celebrate the completion of the Mount St. Helens Forest Conservation Area, a 12-year effort that ultimately protected 20,000 acres of some of the Northwest’s highest-quality working forests. Special guests U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler both lauded…

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Updates from the Field
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A Tree in Memoriam
Celebrating the memory of Land Trust friend and partner Daniel J. Howard Jr.

Forests, it seems, have a way of offering what we seek. Whether it be a shady spot for quiet reflection, a mountain biking trail, or space to walk with the dogs, Northwest forests have us covered. For some, forests also represent a source of work and a deeper sense of purpose. For many folks who…

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A Fieldbook for Forests
The summer edition of our Fieldbook magazine covers major conservation efforts and includes our 2017 Annual Report.

Our newest edition of Fieldbook celebrates Northwest forestlands, both working and wild, with major conservation success from the West and East Cascades. Learn about the Land Trust’s single-largest conservation site to date in Washington’s Klickitat Canyon in Klickitat Always. Discover how our staff worked with a timber company to protect 20,000 acres of forestland from development near…

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Breaking Down the Borders
Our Forest Conservation Director Cherie Kearney shares how the Land Trust is working to include more culturally and racially diverse perspectives throughout the region.

For ten years we’ve held our vision for the south side of Mount St. Helens—20,000 acres of forest conservation. While at the outset we didn’t know what conservation of such a landscape would look like, what eventually emerged was community conservation. Along the way, we heard wide-ranging opinions from the community, in­dicating that forestry is…

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