The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is developing a new management plan for the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area, which is comprised of 18 units in Skamania, Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties, and totals more than 9,600 acres.
The Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area is largely managed for elk in the North Fork Toutle River Valley, but the area units are diverse, and provide habitat for multitudes of species, over a broad range of habitats including old growth forest, forested floodplains, riparian areas, ancient lava flows, mineral springs, tidal mudflats, and wetlands.
The new management plan will address the status of wildlife species and their habitat, ongoing restoration efforts and public recreation opportunities at the wildlife area.
Mount St. Helens Wildlife area includes the following:
- Mudflow and Hoffstadt units: The adjoining Hoffstadt and Mudflow units are located in Cowlitz County along the North Fork Toutle River Valley. These units consist of 6,500 acres of conifer and deciduous forest, small meadows, and the debris plain from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The two units are managed primarily for elk winter range.
Merrill Lake Unit includes 1,453 acres north of the town of Cougar and is bordered by Merrill Lake to the south and the Kalama River to the north. The area has forest with recently harvested sites as well old growth forest, located primarily on an ancient lava flow. It is primarily managed for elk and black-tailed deer habitat
- Silver Lake area units: Four wildlife area units are located near Silver Lake, including Gardner, Hall Road and Canal Road units. These relatively small wildlife area units are managed mostly for riparian or wetland habitat. The Carnine Unit has no public access.
- Units along the Columbia River: Five wildlife area units are located along the Columbia River and its tributaries. Fisher and White islands provide habitat for Columbian white-tailed deer. Both can be accessed only by boat. The Nelson Unit is managed for waterfowl production and is also only accessible by boat. Abernathy Creek is managed for riparian habitat and fishing access while Altoona consists of three parcels along the Grays and Deep Rivers.
- Skamania County, Clark County, and southern Cowlitz County units: The Eagle Island unit is managed largely to provide habitat for salmon, black-tailed deer, waterfowl and songbirds. Both Cedar Creek and Jenny Creek units provide habitat for band-tailed pigeons while Duck Lake is managed for wetland habitat used by waterfowl. The Two Forks unit has walk-in access only and provides access to the confluence of the North and East Fork Lewis Rivers. Nellie Corser is a small unit with mature forest and unique waterfalls.