Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Education

Cowlitz Tribe donates $900K for Mount St. Helens Institute

March 6, 2023 Updated Tue., March 7, 2023 at 8:12 p.m.

By Isabel Vander Stoep (Centralia, Wash.) Chronicle

In one of the largest donations it has ever made, the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation this week announced the earmarking of $900,000 for upgrades for the Mount St. Helens Institute.

The institute called this a “major milestone” donation toward its vision for a lodge and expanded education center.

In an interview with the Chronicle last summer, Executive Director Ray Yurkewycz said the current status of the institute wasn’t “sustainable.” Despite its “amazing location and opportunity,” Yurkewycz said, there are no overnight accommodations for the national volcanic monument’s 300,000 visitors per year.

The tribe’s investment, according to a news release this week, will play a critical role in growing access for youth outdoor school, establishing a campground and improving trails and recreation. It’s also the first step in the nonprofit’s vision toward founding the “Mount St. Helens Lodge and Education Center,” the release stated.

“Our long-standing partnership with Mount St. Helens Institute is extraordinary,” said Timi Marie Russin, Tribal Foundation manager for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe in the donation announcement. “(The group’s) excellent work allows everyone to explore our region’s beauty, teaches our children the importance of our environment, welcomes guests and provides a space to foster relationships within the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s ancestral mountains.”

If the center is built, it will include overnight stays, outdoor schooling and more. It’s likely to be a $10 million project, with $2 million accounted for. The tribe’s gift comes on the heels of $300,000 from private donors, $250,000 from the Washington state Recreation and Conservation Office, and $210,000 from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.

“We are all about advancing understanding and stewardship of the earth through science education and exploration of volcanic landscapes,” said Yurkewycz last summer, later adding, “How do we think bigger to meet the needs of youth education and outdoor school and other business? … There’s so much more to do here.”

For more information about the institute’s long-term goals, visit

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.