EDITOR'S COLUMN: Mount Saint Helens finally speaks
July 3, 2008 · Updated 11:36 PM
We spent the weekend at Mount St. Helens where we accomplished a reportorial coup by gaining an exclusive interview with the giant steaming molehill.
Reporter: First, the name. Are you really a saint, and why the plural? Are you two Helens, or one with a split personality?
St. Helens: According to Catholic Online, St. Helen was a martyred virgin. Maybe Im two martyred virgins, but I dont know. I cant imagine who may have martyred us. The confusion makes me so mad that I could explode. My psychiatrist says my volcanic activity may by a symptom of my identity crisis.
Reporter: Speaking of your volcanic activity, a lot has changed since your last big one in 1980. If you lived in Island County today, you couldnt even explode without a burning permit, unless you kept the explosion less than 4-feet in diameter. Even your steam venting on Saturday could have resulted in a big fine had the sheriff been driving by.
St. Helens: Tell me about it. Ive already heard from the Northwest Air Pollution Authority. Thats why my latest eruption didnt happen last weekend. I was filling out the paperwork.
Reporter: I didnt know the air pollution monitors were so tough.
St. Helens: Thats not the half of it. Im surrounded by salmon streams and they say if I pour any ash into them my caldera is cooked. I cant pollute the sky or the water. Being a volcano isnt half the fun it used to be.
Reporter: There must still be some benefit to exploding, or you wouldnt be fixing to do it again.
St. Helens: Oh, the explosive blast feels great; it relieves that inner stress thats been building up for so long. And while we do have a noise ordinance in this area, someone has to complain before the authorities will enforce it, just like they do in Island County. As we volcanoes say, Only survivors complain. Ha, ha.
Reporter: Back in 80, you instantly clearcut thousands of acres of trees and destroyed numerous homesteads. Arent the authorities hassling you about that this time around?
St. Helens: No, bless their hearts. Theyre not at all interested in what happens to peoples property rights. I can bury their property in a mile of mud and nobody cares, as long as I avoid the salmon streams.
Reporter: What about the clearcutting? In Island County you cant clearcut unless you sign a form clearly stating thats what youre going to do.
St. Helens: Its been almost 25 years since my last big blast, but clearcutting is still fine with the state. Particularly since I wiped out all my spotted owls last time around. The state will simply harvest the downed trees, which are quite scratchy when theyre growing on my sides, and use the proceeds to build more schools where kids will learn the importance of the environment.
Reporter: How about all these TV crews and newspaper people parked on your sides these last few days. Arent they scratchy, too?
St. Helens: Yes, theyre like fleas, and Im like a big dog about to shake them off.
Reporter: You dont need a permit to wipe out reporters?
St. Helens: Actually, thats the one activity the state still encourages. Dont even need a permit.