— Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument —
On May 18, 1980, the eastern edge of the searing lateral blast
rolled up and over ridges to your right. It tore through the Clearwater Valley, lifting just behind where you stand. The blast left a gray patchwork of fallen and standing dead trees,
and clearings from previous timber harvests. A blanket of 6-14 inches of pumice and ash covered the valley.
Prompted by fears of insect infestation and fires, the Forest Service began a five year plan to remove dead trees and replant. They envisioned this valley as a complex ecosystem and living laboratory. Managers, crews and volunteers worked with nature to create a thriving forest community.
(captions for five photographs on the sidebar)
1. Noble and Pacific silver fir were planted at high elevations when they naturally
occur. Contractors now carefully harvest fir boughs for holiday greenery. This fir's low branches were harvested the year before. Proceeds fund watershed restoration.
2. Crews replanted trees among downed
wood and standing snags. Fallen trees
decompose, helping to build soil.
3. Crews and volunteer groups planted
native Douglas and grand fir, and
western redcedar on the valley floor. They mixed in 4% cottonwood and lodgepole pine to add diversity.
4. During timber salvage, the Forest
Service left ¼ acre to 5 acre plots
untouched for wildlife habit and
soil enrichment. Standing dead trees provide insects and shelter for woodpeckers and other cavity nesters.
5. Next to Clearwater Creek, crews planted black cottonwood, willow and alder to stabilize banks, provide cooling shade for fish, and food for deer and elk.