Vandals Strike Coldwater Lake Recreation Area

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Through the reflector

Law enforcement is investigating a recent act of vandalism at the popular Coldwater Lake Recreation Area at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, which occurred on Oct. 9 or 10.

A news release said the toilets at the picnic site were badly damaged, as three toilets and one urinal were completely destroyed and sink fixtures and plumbing were also damaged.

The facilities will remain closed for the foreseeable future, the statement said.

“It’s disheartening that this vandalism has happened,” park ranger Rebecca Hoffman said. “It will take time before these toilets can be repaired, which has a negative impact on this popular leisure site. Repairing the damage will cost around $10,000 or more, and unfortunately it will divert already limited staff and funds from running and maintaining other recreational facilities in the forest.

Under federal regulations, damaging US property could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail. Restitution could also be granted to recoup losses, the statement said, and the level of destruction that occurred is also a crime under United States code.

Local law enforcement officials said theft and vandalism on forest land had increased dramatically.

“If people see others vandalizing recreation sites or ecological resources in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, they should report it as soon as possible,” the statement read.

The public is encouraged to call 911 or the county sheriff’s non-emergency hotline to report crimes.

Anyone with information about the vandalism or anyone who saw anything that could help police make an arrest is asked to call the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office at 360-577-3098.

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