On-going Mt. St. Helens Eruption Recovery

The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens displaced over 3 cubic miles of ash and debris into the atmosphere and the region’s river valleys, including a blockage of the Columbia River. The federal government authorized a $1 billion fifty-year recovery program to protect our county from flooding. By 2014 the Corps’ sediment retention structure (SRS) near Kid Valley was at capacity. With sediment continuing to flow down the Toutle and Cowlitz Rivers, we became concerned that the federal government is falling short in their responsibility to maintain appropriate flood protection.  To make matters worse, the emergency tunnel built as an outlet to Spirit Lake fell in need of serious on-going repairs. Fortunately, temporary repairs to the tunnel and planning to raise the SRS began.


Then inexplicably in late 2015 the federal budget office began refusing to fund the Corps’ annual monitoring of the sediment flow. Regional Corps officials and Congressional staffers made repeated requests for funding to no avail. Last year local governments cobbled together funding for monitoring in 2019. Armed with aerial photos showing a profusion of sand bars stretching down the Cowlitz from the Toutle to the Columbia, I talked to the very budget official who had refused the funding requests. He shared his impression of my presentation with a lobbyist who represents the County and the City of Longview that it was “one of the best explanations” he had ever heard and now that he understands the situation he is working to restore funding in the next federal budget.


weber4cowlitz.org             Authorized and Paid for by Weber For County Commissioner, PO Box 1042, Longview WA 9862