Volunteers seek to rebuild Marble Mountain snow shelter

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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Volunteers have banded together to raise money and in-kind donations to rebuild a popular Mount St. Helens-area warming shelter that was destroyed by a fire April 9.

The Marble Mountain Sno-Park Shelter at the most popular snow park in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest was the last vehicle-accessible area where winter recreationists could park to begin their trek up the mountain during deep snow levels, said Chris Strebig, a forest spokesman. It had been used for about 20 years.

“It’s kind of the end of the season for snowmobiling and that kind of stuff, but obviously people would like to get the shelter back in place by next year because it’s the busiest snow park we have. On weekends, the parking lot is full.”

The next highest point up from the shelter where recreationists can park is Climbers’ Bivouac, which is expected to be covered by snow until early July, Strebig said.

The Trac Riders, Mount St. Helens Institute, the U.S. Forest Service and other recreational user groups hope to rebuild the shelter by November. They are seeking donations of $130,000, plus in-kind materials and labor.

Jeanne Bennett, executive director of the Mount St. Helens Institute, said 100 percent of donations would go directly toward the shelter reconstruction project.

The Forest Service is self-insured, so it has to cover the cost of any losses, Strebig said. The shelter was originially built through a partnership with and financial support from the community, he said.

Donations for the shelter’s reconstruction can be made at https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/MountStHelensInstitute/OnlineDonation.html?fund=pulse.

You can read more about it in Saturday's edition of The Columbian.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551, paris.achen@columbian.com, Twitter@Col_Trends, www.Facebook.com/#!/pages/Paris-Achen