What is going on?
The USDA Forest Service, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is being sued by Montana based group Wilderness Watch for rehabilitating the historic Green Mountain Lookout, located on the Darrington Ranger District. Wilderness Watch is claiming that the structure is new, and therefore violates the Wilderness act. They are suing for their attorney’s fees, costs associated with bringing suit, and to have the lookout removed from Green Mountain.
The Darrington Historical Society has supported and been involved in the rehabilitation since 1997. The lookout is listed on the National and State historic registers, and has been rehabilitated according to stringent guidelines. The project has been funded by grants and a great deal of the labor has been done by volunteers, both local people and many from all over the country.
The project has suffered major setbacks in its progress. Part way through the rehabilitation process the lookout was in imminent danger of falling hundreds of feet from its precarious perch due to structural failure of the foundation. Forest Service staff decided to remove the building, and with the assistance of a highly regarded restoration carpenter, numbed individual boards, took photos of every detail and thoroughly documented the process. The building components were brought to the Darrington Ranger station and stored. The next fall a major flood event destroyed roads, bridges and trails on the west side of the Glacier Peak Wilderness, making restoring the lookout to its former position a much more daunting task. In the ensuing years the Darrington Historical Society has continued to monitor and support the rehabilitation. Now that the project has been nearly completed we find our friends at the Forest Service being attacked from afar by people who have no sense of perspective and who belittle our local pride in this project.
How can I help?
If you would like to support the Darrington Historical Society’s efforts to keep the Green Mountain Fire Lookout on Green Mountain we urge you to write to your elected representatives. We have written to Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Rick Larsen asking them to sponsor a bill including language ensuring that Federal agencies who manage historical structures located in National Wilderness Areas are directed to maintain, rehabilitate as necessary, and protect these national treasures. You can also write letters of support to the USDA Forest Service, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Supervisor, Rob Iwamoto. Forest Supervisor Iwamoto is specifically named in the suit brought against the rehabilitation of the Green Mt Lookout by the Montana based group Wilderness Watch. Knowing that the public supports this project will encourage Forest Service staff to fight this litigation with all possible resources.
The Darrington Historical Society is also teaming up with two national groups, the Forest Fire Lookout Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We hope to find an attorney practicing in Washington State to represent us during the litigation procedures. If you know someone who would be willing to donate their time or work pro-bono on this landmark litigation please contact us ASAP!
It is feared that Wilderness Watch is attempting to use this lawsuit to set a precedent regarding the maintenance of historical structures in congressionally designated Wilderness Areas nationwide. If we lose Green Mountain Lookout, we may well expect to lose many others in the coming years. Now is the time to act.
You can also support any of these groups with monetary donations or volunteer help. All are 501(c)-3 non-profit organizations, and donations are tax deductible.
If you have questions or would like to help please contact:
Leah Tyson, President, Darrington Historical Society at:360-436-0675
Forrest Clark, Western Washington Director, Forest Fire Lookout Association at: