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From the editors of The Chronicle

The U.S. Forest Service and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are planning two stakeholder meetings to help develop potential options for a long-term solution to Spirit Lake outflow at Mount St. Helens, a news release said.

“The lake could impact tens of thousands of people in downstream communities in the Toutle, Cowlitz and Columbia river systems,” the Forest Service stated. “Safely managing Spirit Lake’s water levels is of paramount importance as nearly 50,000 people live downstream of the tunnel outfall. Finding a solution that maintains safe water levels in Spirit Lake while respecting the unique resources and values ​​in the Mount St. Helens area is part of this unique project.”

A virtual public meeting is planned for Thursday, July 11, 2024, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., where participants can learn more about the project, ask questions, and provide input. Interested parties can register for the Microsoft Teams webinar at https://tinyurl.com/3ey2pk9w.

A second virtual public meeting is planned for July 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. Interested parties can register at https://tinyurl.com/wfbyhy89.

The National Environmental Policy Act process is scheduled to begin in August, when interested parties will have the opportunity to participate in the environmental analysis process.

Following the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, Spirit Lake’s natural outflow was blocked by a debris avalanche. The Spirit Lake outflow tunnel was built under emergency conditions to safely maintain the lake level.

The tunnel is located in an area of ​​volcanic, geological, hydrological and seismic hazards. The hazards increase the risk of a debris blockage rupture or tunnel failure, exposing downstream communities to a catastrophic mudflow in the event of a complete rupture of the lake.

Project details and further information can be found at https://tinyurl.com/39syak9e.

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