Law enforcement is investigating a recent vandalism at the popular Coldwater Lake Recreation Area at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument that occurred on Oct. 9 or Oct. 10.
A news release stated the restrooms at the picnic site were heavily damaged as three toilets and one urinal were completely smashed and sink fixtures and plumbing were also damaged.
The facilities will remain closed for the foreseeable future, stated the release.
“It is disheartening that this vandalism has occurred,” said park ranger Rebecca Hoffman. “It will take time before these restrooms are able to be repaired, which negatively impacts this popular recreation site. To fix the damage it will cost an estimated $10,000 or more, and unfortunately this will divert already limited staff and funds from managing and maintaining other recreation facilities on the forest.”
Under federal regulations, damaging any property of the United States could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail. Restitution could also be awarded to recoup losses, stated the release, and the level of destruction that occurred is also a felony under United States code.
Local law enforcement officers said theft and vandalism on forest lands has increased significantly.
“If people see others vandalizing recreation sites or ecological resources on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, they should report it as soon as possible,” stated the release.
The public is encouraged to call 911 or the county sheriff’s non-emergency phone line to report crimes.
Anyone with information about the vandalism or anyone who saw something that could help police make an arrest are asked to call the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office at 360-577-3098.
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