Hope persists for shelter replacement

By Al Thomas, Columbian Outdoors Reporter



STEVENSON — The U.S. Forest Service has not given up hope of replacing the destroyed warming shelter at Marble Mountain Sno-Park on the south side of Mount St. Helens.

“We’re looking for grants,” said Robin Rose, recreation manager for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, at a meeting here of winter recreation interests in Southwest Washington. “We don’t have extra funding in our own budget. We possibly could apply for a state grant.”

The popular log shelter burned to the ground on April 9, 2011. It featured a large stove in the center.

The shelter was built about 25 years ago through a partnership between the state, snowmobile clubs, local businesses and the Forest Service.

Snowmobilers, particularly, used the shelter, but cross-country skiers and snowshoers also took advantage of it as place to warm up.

Pam McConkey, winter recreation program manager for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, said her agency administers the money from snowmobile registration fees and the sale of Sno-Park permits.

She said registration fees from snowmobiles are flat, but revenue from sale of non-motorized sno-park permits is up 23 percent.

Because a warming shelter at Marble Mountain would be used by both groups, a grant request for money from both accounts is conceivable, she said.

Any organization or individual can apply for money to use toward building a new shelter. She encouraged the Forest Service to apply.

“We don’t give out money without a request,” McConkey said.

Tracy Calizon, community engagement staff officer for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, also said Marble Mountain is on the Forest Service’s radar.

“We are assessing what needs to be done to rebuild Marble Mountain shelter,” she said. “We don’t have a dollar figure at this time.”

Bill Uyesugi of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument said the estimates to replace the shelter vary widely, but another log structure would be in the range of $120,000 if a lot of labor is donated.

“Due to the location, to move the materials there involve a lot of transportation cost,” he said.

Uyesugi said he has the designs for the original log structure.

To replace the structure, costs need to get nailed down, volunteer commitments secured, donations determined and an examination of potential Forest Service funding and grants, he said.

Mike Ainslee, grooming coordinator for the Vancouver Sno-Busters snowmobile club, said club members are enthusiastic about rebuilding the warming shelter and will provide volunteer labor.

The club has talked about having a donation box at Marble Mountain Sno-Park to start collecting revenue, he said.

To build momentum, there needs to be a plan, he added.

“As far as I can tell, the Forest Service has done nothing,” Ainslee said. “They’ve swept it under the carpet and don’t care.”

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