Green Mountain lookout bill up for vote in Senate

DARRINGTON — People concerned about saving the old forest fire lookout on Green Mountain in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest got a little hope in their Christmas stockings.

Just before federal legislators headed home for the holidays, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources decided to send the proposed Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act on for a vote by the full Senate.

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell introduced the Green Mountain bill nearly a year ago, when Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene introduced companion legislation in the House.

In a statement from Cantwell’s office, the senator from Washington said she hopes the bill will clear Congress in the new year.

“For 80 years, this scenic lookout has stood atop Green Mountain,” Cantwell said. “Our bill would keep the (lookout) where it belongs, for Northwest hikers, historians and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. I will keep working with (Murray, DelBene and Larsen) to pass this bill into law.”

The lookout, located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of the National Forest, is scheduled to be removed from the 6,500-foot mountain and placed eight miles away at the top of Circle Peak. This plan by the Forest Service follows an order by the U.S. District Court in Seattle to remove the lookout from the wilderness. The court sided with a lawsuit by Montana-based Wilderness Watch against the Forest Service for using a helicopter and other machinery, a violation of the federal Wilderness Act, to shore up the lookout during preservation work.

Wilderness Watch officials have said that the proposed bill would erode the intentions of the Wilderness Act.

After the Senate committee vote on Dec. 19, Kitty Craig, the Pacific Northwest regional representative of the Wilderness Society said she is eager to see action on the bill in the House and Senate and hopes that the bill will be on the president’s desk before the clock runs out for the 113th Congress.

“For decades, the Green Mountain Lookout has been a popular destination for hikers seeking to enjoy the impressive vistas and endless acres of wildflowers of the Glacier Peak Wilderness and experience the historic fire lookout,” Craig said.

Built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the lookout predates designation of the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 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. Until recently, the Forest Service still used the lookout to house seasonal staff who provided educational information to wilderness visitors.

“The Green Mountain Lookout provides important benefits to the education of wilderness visitors,” Craig said. “If Congress does not act by early 2014, the lookout will be removed or destroyed and we will lose a local wilderness treasure. Saving the lookout has broad-based community support.”

Supporters include the Darrington Town Council, Snohomish County Council, local businesses and volunteer organizations, the Washington Trails Association, The Mountaineers, Back Country Horsemen of America, National Forest Fire Lookout Association, The Nature Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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

More in Local News

Woman badly burned in north Everett house fire

Two men escaped unharmed from the burning home on Lombard Avenue.

House passes ban on bump-fire stocks

If the Senate approves, Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign it into law.

Man charged with rape, manslaughter of teen dying from overdose

Brian Roberto Varela’s arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation puts faith to work

Its “religiously liberal” members are open to differing creeds and doctrines.

Aid crews get a dose of digital medicine

iPad app does the math for them so aid crews are free to treat children

Boy, 15, pleads guilty to kicking death of teen in Marysville

Prosecutors are seeking 30 days behind bars, which is the higher end of what’s allowed for minors.

No injuries after fire ravages vacant Marysville house

Firefighters could not prevent flames from causing damage throughout the interior of the home.

Spikes put end to ride from Seattle to Everett in stolen car

Two men were taken into custody at the bottom of Marine View Drive off I-5.

2 arrested after Marysville shooting leaves man brain dead

The victim had shown 1 suspect — a friend — a stack of money he won at the casino, police said.

Most Read