Effort starts to save Green Mountain lookout

DARRINGTON — Sen. Maria Cantwell says it’s high time to get to work on a bill that would save the Green Mountain forest fire lookout from being pulled off the peak.

Cantwell, D-Wash., got a commitment from a Senate committee chairman Thursday that he will move ahead on the proposed bill to preserve the lookout, located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee recognized the Washington congressional delegation’s work on the lookout bill and pledged to move the bill “expeditiously,” Cantwell said.

Cantwell and fellow Sen. Patty Murray introduced the Green Mountain bill in February while Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene, both Democrats who represent portions of Snohomish County, introduced companion legislation in the House.

In May they asked the U.S. Forest Service to delay plans to move the lookout out of the wilderness. The Forest Service plans to use a helicopter to haul away the lookout from the 6,500-foot mountain and place it eight miles away at the top of Circle Peak.

The Forest Service plan follows an order by the U.S. District Court in Seattle to remove the lookout. The court sided with a lawsuit by Montana-based Wilderness Watch against the Forest Service for using a helicopter to shore up the lookout during preservation work, a violation of the federal Wilderness Act.

In July, Darrington Historical Society member Scott Morris joined DelBene and Larsen in testifying before the House Natural Resources Committee in support of the Green Mountain Heritage Protection Act.

Work on the proposed bill was delayed in October because of the shutdown of the federal government.

In addition to its history as a forest fire lookout, the Green Mountain lookout served as an early warning station to detect enemy aircraft during World War II.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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