Volunteers needed to keep hunter access to St. Helens Tree Farm

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Volunteers are needed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to maintain hunter access this fall to 250,000 acres of private forest near Mount St. Helens.

Weyerhaeuser Co. is prepared to give hunters with special elk permits additional vehicle access to large portions of the St. Helens Tree Farm if enough volunteers can be found to ensure an orderly hunt.

Sandra Jonker, regional wildlife manager, said volunteers are needed to staff access points, orient hunters and maintain safety buffers between hunters and active Weyerhaeuser operations.

The program has attracted 50 to 60 volunteers per year since 2007. Jonker said the amount of land that is opened is directly proportional to the number of volunteers.

To participate, volunteers can enroll at the department office at 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens.

Participants must attend one orientation session.

The sessions are at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia; 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at the department office in Vancouver, and 6 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Cowlitz Public Utility District, 961 12th Ave., Longview.

The Southwest Washington Land Access Coalition, a private group, has secured money to reimburse volunteers for mileage.

The tree farm includes parts of the Winston 520, Margaret 524, Coweeman 550 and Toutle 556 units.