Slides, conditions delay opening of some roads near Mount St. Helens

The opening of four key roads on the east side of the Mount St. Helens in Gifford Pinchot National Forest has been delayed until mid-May.

Forest Service roads 25, 99, 26, and 8100830 were scheduled to open Wednesday, but road repairs and maintenance needed to ensure safe public travel will postpone the openings.

A number of rock slides and rough road conditions are creating unsafe driving conditions, according to managers at Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Winter snow typically limits road access in this part of the forest until June or July, but mild weather conditions allowed for early access to these areas.

Forest officials are urging visitors to use the 2015 motor vehicle map online at tinyurl.com/po85u4e.

The map should be used as a guide since weather and road conditions can affect scheduled openings and closures. The map shows the roads, trails and areas where you can legally drive wheeled motor vehicles. All motor vehicle operators are required to know and follow the regulations displayed on the map when driving in the forest.

Drivers also are cautioned that weather and road conditions can change rapidly. Most roads in the forest are not maintained for winter driving. Traction devices and a shovel are recommended, as is extra food, drinking water, winter clothing, blankets, a flashlight and first aid kit.

Many developed recreation sites are expected to begin opening in late April and mid-May.