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New Developments For The Green Mountain Lookout

Posted by Jonathan Guzzo at Jun 08, 2012 04:05 PM |
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There are new developments in the controversy over the Green Mountain Lookout, as a powerful line-up of voices express support for leaving the structure in place.

There are new developments in the controversy over the Green Mountain Lookout, an old fire lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness that was built in 1933. The popular trail up Green Mountain has been largely inaccessible since floods washed out the Suiattle River Road in 2003 and 2006, but the lookout itself has been restored in that time.

The restoration, and how it was carried out, was at the heart of a lawsuit brought by Montana-based Wilderness Watch. In March, Federal District Judge John Coughenor ruled in favor of Wilderness Watch - that the restoration, and specifically how it was carried out (helicopters were used to remove and return it), violated the Wilderness Act. He ordered that the Green Mountain Lookout be removed. You can read more about the ruling here.

Now the clock is ticking. The 60-day period that the Forest Service had to respond to the Judge's order to remove the lookout ended on May 27. In that period, a couple of interesting developments occurred.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington State, filed a brief asking that Judge Coughenour amend his ruling and remand the decision back to the Forest Service, giving them the opportunity to decide how to comply. Typically, when a judge rules against a defendant in a lawsuit against a federal agency, they require the agency to come up with a plan to comply with the ruling rather than specify a remedy and timeline, as was done here. Should Judge Coughenour amend his ruling, the Forest Service could take a step back and do an environmental assessment to show that the lookout does not detract from the wilderness character of Green Mountain, or propose another course of action that would keep the lookout in place.

Secondly, Congressman Larsen and Senators Murray and Cantwell sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking him to "...ensure that this [removal] is not the final result of this lawsuit..." Congressman Larsen represents the 2nd Congressional District, which for the time being includes the Suiattle River Road and Green Mountain. That will change in November, since the Washington State Redistricting Commission has moved the boundary of the 2nd District farther west.

WTA will continue to keep you up-to-date on the eventual fate of the Green Mountain Lookout. It's a part of Pacific Northwest history that we hope to keep alive.


Green Mountain Lookout: Tear it down? No!!!

It would be a pity to tear down a beautiful, recently restored lookout tower just because some out-of-state extreme environmentalists think it spoils the wilderness experience up on Green Mountain. This lookout has been a hiking destination for many decades and will continue to be so. It should be grandfathered in on the Glacier Wilderness boundary just like Miners Ridge lookout and other lookouts in wilderness areas or even national parks. We appreciate that our congressional delegation is giving support to lookout preservation and appealing to the judge to reconsider this case.

Posted by:

"EckartS" on Jun 13, 2012 12:01 PM


I know wild means wild. I know what law books say. And I know that seeing first hand what Wilderness Watch spends our money on is disheartening at best. I will def. think twice before I blindly hand over future donations. To me it's a textbook example of biting the hand that feeds them. I can think of many other wilderness issues here in WA state that could have used the funds and attention. They obviously care not for our money that has been wasted in court and will be again wasted on removing the structure that everyone here, you know actually in WA, likes and enjoys.

Posted by:

polkadotpaula on Jun 19, 2012 02:14 PM

Better without the lookout

The first time I visited Green Mountain there was NO LOOKOUT there, just a beautiful, wild view. When I heard that that my tax dollars were used to completely rebuild the structure and chopper it back in to a wilderness area, I was completely incensed.

Wilderness is wilderness and it's the dreaded "slippery slope" when it comes to making these type of exceptions just because some people have a weird thing for old lookouts. I'm glad an out-of-state organization is holding the line on wilderness in Washington, whether it's preventing rebuilt lookouts and unnecessary choppers flights or keeping the mining interests out.


Posted by:

Zora Ballinger on Jun 20, 2012 12:49 AM

Green Mt Fire Lookout

Thousands of volunteer hours went into the retoration of Green Mt. Lookout. Tax dollars are being squandered on litigation from extreme groups. Jets from Whidbey Naval Airstation do regular low level flights through GPW. The Wilderness Act has provision for historic preservation. What does "keep it wild" mean anyway? No GPS, digital camera, cell phone, boots, nylon, trail, parking lot?

Posted by:

"paul wagner" on Jun 20, 2012 02:13 PM

Ignoring the Rule of Law

As usual otherwise perfectly reasonable people who love the out of doors chose to ignore gross agency malfeasance in actions on our public lands when it suits their own notions of right and wrong. Never mind decades of case law clarifiying the intent of Congress in the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, NEPA etc etc. Facts make things messy.

I especially find humour in our knee jerk reactions to "outsiders" meddlin' in our backyards, By Gawd! One must work hard to overlook the obvious irony in claiming that a Wilderness agency watchdog group from Montana who finds it necessary to weigh in to correct egregious agency malfeasance and breaking of the public trust in federal Wilderness stewardship is somehow out of line.

The sad truth of the matter is that had the USFS properly handled the decision making process required by several federal laws with respect to repairs to the lookout and worked to use minimum tools and appropriate methods as required by the Wilderness Act and National Environmental Policy Act this never would have come to pass.

Now it is a doubly expensive quagmire for the public, local businesses and a shameless USFS staff.


Posted by:

"Woodsman" on Jun 25, 2012 09:10 PM