Cowlitz-Skamania Fire District #7 is a small rural Fire District. The Fire Chief is the only paid position. All the rest of the Firefighters are volunteer. We are located in southwest Washington State, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Our district is on the north side of the Lewis River and its three heavily used recreational lakes. The lakes are each approximately 14 miles long. We are responsible for 54 square miles along the river, two of the lakes, and a small portion of the third. We respond as Mutual Aid on another 100 square miles with neighboring districts.
Our community was once supported by a thriving logging industry. Economic and environmental issues have slowed the logging to a fraction of what it once was. A few businesses have recently started up trying to take advantage of the outdoor sports enthusiasts, or the tourists that drive through.
Many people camp, fish, hunt, ride atv’s, swim, water ski, jet ski, kayak, hang glide, cross country snow ski, and ride snowmobiles in our district. During the summer, our average daytime population swells to more than 15,000. Each year, more than a million people use the facilities on the lakes, and an even greater number drive through on their way to the Volcanic Monument and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest surrounding Mt St. Helens.
In our response area, there are four hydroelectric dams producing a total of 510 MW. These dams supply power to Portland, OR and the regional power grid. The lakes and dams are used for power generation, flood control, recreation, navigation, and wildlife habitation. Highway 503, the main road through our district, is the southern route to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There are nine different camping and boat launch sites located along Highway 503 through our district.