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Because Of Volcanic Activity

Two popular sno-parks remain closed until further notice

The popular Marble Mountain and Cougar Sno-Parks on the

south side of Mount St. Helens will remain closed until further notice because of volcanic hazards, monument officials have decided.

The two Sno-Parks, located on Forest Road 83 east of Cougar, lie within the five-mile closure Gifford Pinchot Forest officials have designated around the newly active Mount St. Helens volcano. While Forest Roads 83 and 81 west of Pine Creek on the south side of the mountain are open, the Sno-Parks will remain closed. The roads will close with

snowfall.

"In the interests of safety, we are going to keep those two Sno-Parks closed until we hear a positive change in status from the U.S. Geological Survey," Monument Manager Cliff Ligons said. "Their information helps guide our land-use policies, and right now we remain at Alert Level II."

Alert Level II is the middle of three volcano alert levels. Ligons said monument officials will review the closure based on new information and could re-open the Sno-Parks this winter if the USGS believes the threat has receded.

Skamania County plans to plow Forest Roads 90, 51 and 30 leading south to the Wind River Winter Recreation Area with seven Sno-Parks.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Sno-Park program plans to redistribute funds used to plow Marble Mountain and Cougar Sno-Parks to other Southwest Washington Sno-Parks.

Marble Mountain and Cougar Sno-Parks received more than 76,000 visitors in 1999, the last year for which figures are available. Approximately two-thirds of the parks' use comes from snowmobilers, with cross-country skiers and snow-showers making up the rest.

For more information on the forest's winter recreation opportunities, www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/recreation/winter.

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