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Get Back the High Lakes

In northeast Cowlitz County and the bordering part of Skamania County, there is a beautiful area called High Lakes that for many years has been a favorite place for camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting. 

The area abuts the boundary of the Mount St. Helens National Monument and includes Elk, Hanaford, Forest and Fawn lakes.  In January 2007 Weyerhaeuser Co. sold this area to a developer, who has split half the land into large lots.  A group of local residents who are concerned that this area will no longer be accessible to the public have organized to try to save this area for public recreation.  The group is led by Gifford Pinchot Task Force and is made up of local fishing, hunting, and environmental organizations, including WHAS.  

One idea is to create legislation that will help prevent this situation in other parts of Cowlitz County and the rest of Washington.  A couple of legislative models that have been successful in other states are being explored.   In addition, Gifford Pinchot Task Force has applied for grant funds to buy at least one parcel, but a campaign for public donations is also being initiated. Another step was to ask Cowlitz County Commissioners at their January 19 meeting to impose a moratorium on building permits in areas outside of local fire districts until the county can create a comprehensive plan and zoning for all land outside of cities’ limits.  A moratorium of this sort has already been put into place by Skamania County.  The Cowlitz Commissioners have agreed to hold a public hearing on the possibility of such a moratorium soon.  In advance of this hearing, in March the Get Back the High Lakes group will be holding public information forums in Longview and Toutle.  Keep your eyes open for information through The Daily News that will announce these public forums.  

For more news about the land sale, you can access an article in Seattle’s KOMO news website. If you would like to be part of the effort to preserve this forestland for wildlife and public access, contact Charlotte Persons at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 360-442-2575.