Officials want Green Mountain lookout to stay

EVERETT — Members of Congress are asking the U.S. Forest Service to delay plans to move the Green Mountain forest fire lookout out of the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Rep. Suzan DelBene, Rep. Rick Larsen, both Democrats who represent portions of Snohomish County, and a member of the House Natural Resources Committee sent a letter Friday to the chief of the Forest Service describing their intent to pass legislation to protect the lookout where it sits.

In July, Darrington Historical Society member Scott Morris joined DelBene and Larsen in testifying before the congressional committee in support of the Green Mountain Heritage Protection Act, which could be heard by the full House of Representatives in September. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, also Democrats, also are pursuing identical legislation in the Senate.

At a cost of about $100,000, the Forest Service is planning to use a helicopter to haul away the lookout from the 6,500-foot mountain and put it down eight miles away at the top of Circle Peak, also in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The 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, a violation of the federal Wilderness Act.

Kitty Craig, Pacific Northwest regional representative of the Wilderness Society, said in a statement last week that her organization is pleased that the House committee approved the proposed bill.

“We believe the Green Mountain lookout provides outstanding benefits to the preservation of Glacier Peak Wilderness and the education of wilderness visitors and does not detract from the qualities we seek in wilderness,” Craig said.

“Time is running out for the future of the lookout as the Forest Service has started its first phase of planning for the removal of the lookout from Green Mountain.”

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

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