The Mason County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies will be strictly enforcing the closure area around the High Steel Bridge.
Each year the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and regional partners respond to rescue and fatality recovery operations in the South Fork Skokomish Canyon under and adjacent the High Steel Bridge. People routinely enter the canyon despite the dangers that cause it to be a closed area by Federal order, resulting in injury and average of one death annually.
As the responsible agency for search and rescue operations, the Sheriff’s Office responds with the Multi-Agency Special Operations Rescue Team, as well as dedicated SAR volunteers to rescue and recover those who ignore the warning signs. Their negligent actions place first responders in extremely hazardous conditions.
Order No. 06-09-18-03 prohibits, “Going into or being upon any area adjacent to Forest Service Road 2340: within 100 (one hundred) yards on either end of the high steel bridge to a point 200 (two hundred) yards out from either side of the roadway and down to the high water level on the South fork Skokomish river. 36 CFR § 261.53(e).”
“Except for travel on NFSR 2340 and the South Fork Skokomish River, members of the public are prohibited from entering the area surrounding the High Steel Bridge. This area, being rectangular in shape, measures 400 yards in length and 200 yards in width.”
Effective immediately, The Sheriff’s Office will be strictly enforcing this closure as a violation of RCW 9A.52.070, Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree. Additionally, Federal Forest Law Enforcement may pursue criminal violations of federal statutes.
It is the intent of the Sheriff’s Office to preserve public safety and reduce unnecessary risk to the public and our first responders.
The highest railway arch bridge ever built in the United States, the High Steel Bridge soars 365 feet above the South Fork of the Skokomish River. Originally constructed in 1929 by the Simpson Logging Company, the bridge was converted to road use in 1950. Visitors to the High Steel bridge should be careful, the guard rails on the north side are only about 3 feet high. If you don’t watch out, you may find yourself in a 37-story free fall! (HighestBridges.com)