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VANCOUVER -- Facilities at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument are free on Friday to mark the 32nd anniversary of the big 1980 blast that killed 57 people and changed the landscape.

Visitors can learn about the changes and check on current conditions at the Cascades' most active volcano at the Johnston Ridge Observatory and the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center at Coldwater.

A new outdoor amphitheater greets visitors to Johnston Ridge Observatory, along with 51 informational panels and other improvements added since last year. The Learning Center is hosting a volunteer appreciation event.

The Columbian reports Forest Service officials hope the gathering is the start of a new life for the repurposed facility, which closed as a visitor center in 2007.

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