Update: December 14, 2012
Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell introduced legislation that would protect the Green Mountain Lookout. A joint Press Release issued by staff for both Senators provides additional information about the bill. The legislation is a companion piece to an identical bill Rep. Rick Larsen introduced in the House of Representatives back in June (see the update below from June 27, 2012).
Update: September 27, 2012
The campaign to save the Green Mountain Lookout received a shot in the arm with the recent ruling from US Court, Seattle District. Judge Coughenour granted a motion to alter his earlier ruling requiring the US Forest Service to remove the lookout. In his new ruling, the matter has been remanded to the Forest Service. In layman's terms, rahter than mandatory removal, this means the Forest Service is being provided the opportunity to determine, as an agency, how to proceed "in a manner not inconsistent" with the court's earlier finding that rehabilitation of the lookout violated the Wilderness Act.
Advocates are careful not to celebrate this as a toal victory - to be sure, the lookout may still come down. But the ruling at least allows the Forest Service the chance to determine on their own how to resolve the earlier violation.
You can read the court decision HERE.
Update: August 18, 2012
The US Forest Service recently filed a brief with the US Court seeking an amended judgment of the District Court ruling requiring the removal of the Green Mountain Lookout. You can read the brief HERE
Update: June 27, 2012
Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) today introduced a bill that would save the Green Mountain Forest Fire Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Larsen's office issued a Press Release
with details on the legislation.
In 2011, the Washington Trust included the Green Mountain Lookout in our Most Endangered Historic Properties List.
The Threat: Wilderness Watch, a hardline environmental activist group, sued the US Forest Service on the basis that work recently completed to restore the Lookout violated the Wilderness Act. On March 27th, Judge John C. Coughenour of the US District Court in Seattle ruled in favor of Wilderness Watch, ordering the US Forest Service to remove the National Register-listed structure. Caringly restored utilizing hundreds of hours of volunteer labor and placed on a repaired foundation atop Green Mountain in 2010, its removal would deprive the numerous recreation enthusiasts who hike the Green Mountain route from enjoying a significant component of our history.
The Response: While the Wilderness Act contains a prohibition on structures and installations being located within a designated Wilderness Area, exceptions are made when the agency managing the area can demonstrate that repairs or maintenance to a historic site is a necessity for administering the Wilderness Area. In his ruling, Judge Coughenour found that there was no 'necessity' in preserving the Lookout in place - that the Wilderness Area could be managed appropriately without the presence of the Lookout, therefore ordering its removal. The Judge added that unlike other fire lookouts in designated Wilderness Areas, the Green Mountain Lookout has never been singled out as exempt from the Wilderness Act. Such an exemption is possible, but would take an act of Congress.
Our Request: The court's decision has the potential to adversely impact how federal agencies will manage historic resources on public lands in the future. This needs to be addressed from a broader policy standpoint and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to achieve the needed consideration for historic resources. In the short term, however, we are asking you - historic preservation advocates and recreation enthusiasts alike - to write to your Congressmen and to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, asking them to support immediate legislation exempting the Green Mountain Lookout from the Wilderness Act. Without this action, the Lookout may be removed from Green Mountain in early summer.
The Darrington Historical Society has crafted a template letter with this request. Please use this letter, revising it any way you see fit, and email it to members of Congress.
In addition, the Darrington Historical Society has crafted a list of responses to the court's decision arguing against removal of the Lookout.
For additional reference, follow this link to read the Washington Trust's letter to Representative Rick Larsen.
Brian Turner, Senior Field Officer/Attorney in the San Francisco Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, wrote a comprehensive summary of the lawsuit and the ruling:
Federal Court Orders Removal of Historic Fire Lookout in Washington State
A Video Blog of the last full time fire spotter stationed at the Green Mountain Lookout can be seen at:
A Former Green Mountain Lookout Tells His Story
The following are recent News Articles on the issue:
Bill would save lookout in Glacier Peak Wilderness
Influential voices line up for Green Mountain lookout
Distinguished judge makes dumb decision: Mountain lookout has to go
Judge orders removal of historic lookout in wilderness
Please join in our advocacy efforts!