Baecher to Chair NAS Committee on Management of Mt. St. Helens' Spirit Lake

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The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences announced this week that Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Greg Baecher was appointed to chair a new committee to make recommendations to the U.S. Forest Service on the long-term management of Spirit Lake on the slops of Mt. St. Helens.

In 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, sending out an avalanche of debris and volcanic deposits that blocked the natural flow of water from Spirit Lake to the Toutle River, causing long-term changes to the watershed's hydrology. A 1.5-mile tunnel was constructed to control water levels in the lake and prevent a catastrophic failure of the blockage that could otherwise lead to a release of large quantities of water and sediments into the watershed and pose a threat to 50,000 residents. Recent inspections revealed that the tunnel is at risk of failure, and emergency repairs are underway; but, a long-term solution for management of Spirit Lake and the Toutle River system is needed. 

Baecher, an associate of CEE's Center for Disaster Resilience, received his BSCE from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. from MIT. 

The National Academy of Sciences is a non-governmental, non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1863 at the request of President Abraham Lincoln. The Academy has two missions: to honor the nation's top scientists, engineers, and health professionals with membership, and to serve the nation with independent, expert advice. 

More information about the long-term management plans for Spirit Lake and the Toutle River are available online.

Published May 19, 2016