Posts tagged: fire lookouts
MOUNTAIN STORMS — If you haven’t read Norman Maclean’s “USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky,” Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune recommends it, and so do I.
It is one of the “other stories” in his book “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories.”
Recently I wrote a story about a backpacking trek in the Glacier Peak Wilderness during which thunder storms pounded my camp with the shock and awe of the bombing of Bahgdad.
Maclean says this about thunderstorms from the perspective of a forest fire lookout staffer at Elk Summit near Powell, Idaho:
“In the late afternoon, of course, the mountains meant all business for the lookouts. The big winds were veering from the valleys toward the peaks, and smoke from little fires that had been secretly burning for several days might show up for the first time. New fires sprang out of thunder before it sounded. By three-thirty or four, the lightning would be flexing itself on the distant ridges like a fancy prizefighter, skipping sideways, ducking, showing off but not hitting anything. But four-thirty or five, it was another game. You could feel the difference in the air that had become hard to breath. The lightning now came walking into you, delivering short smashing punches.”
TRAILS — Volunteers are helping the Kootenai National Forest build a new trail to a stunning view from a forest fire lookout overlooking the Clark Fork River and the proposed Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.
The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness already has put in multiple days of routing, brushing, log cutting and carving the tread to the Star Peak Lookout over the past two years.
The peak where an historic lookout is located formerly was known as Squaw Peak.
Following work days are Aug. 23 plus the weekend of Sept. 21-22.
The group also has set work days on the South Fork of Ross Creek on Aug. 16 and Morris Creek in the Lightning Creek drainage on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 28.
“We are getting close, and I am very confident we will finish this trail this summer,” said Sandy Compton, FSPW program coordinator. The Forest Service trail crew cut the rest of the trail out last week. If it's really warm, we will hike up to where the the new trail meets the old single track and work down the hill in the shade.
The friends group isn't all work and no play. See the FSPW list of guided hikes designed to familiarize the public with the official wilderness in waiting.
To sign-up and help with the trail projects, contact Sandy Compton, (208) 290-1281.
PUBLIC LANDS – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged a key Senate subcommittee today to move forward on a bill to preserve the historic Green Mountain Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness near Darrington, Wash.
Wilderness advocates have pressed the Forest Service to remove the historic lookout, in part because its precarious location requires helicopter maintenance in violation of wilderness rules.
Darrington-area groups are trying to keep the lookout intact for visitors.
Cantwell advocated for the passage of the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act (S. 404) on Tuesday, during a hearing in the Public Lands, Forestry and Mining Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
A representative of the U.S. Forest Service voiced the department’s support for S. 404 during the hearing, and said that local residents wanted the lookout to remain at Green Mountain.
Read on for more details and links to Cantwell's statements.
FIRE LOOKOUTS - Volunteers are refurbishing a national forest lookout ravaged by age, weather and vandalism on Spyglass Peak in the upper reaches of the North Fork Coeur d'Alene River.
The Idaho Panhandle National Forests have partnered with Lutherhaven Ministries and the Forest Fire Lookout Association to renovate three historic structures, including Spyglass lookout tower, a groundhouse where workers who staffed the lookout lived when the lookout was operational, and an outhouse.
The structures have been vacant for more than 20 years.
Lutherhaven offered assistance with grant funding applications and a youthful labor force of volunteers from Shoshone Base Camp. Additional volunteers and expertise have come from the Forest Fire Lookout Association and local Forest Service employees.
Through Lutherhaven’s efforts two major regional grants were awarded totaling more than $25,000, the Forest Service officials said. Additional funding was granted by the Forest Fire Lookout Association and combined with funding from the Forest Service, which enabled the groups to begin work on the site this year.
Lutherhaven Ministries owns Shoshone Base Camp, a Christian youth camp which operates Idaho Servant Adventures, a program that brings youth from around the country to North Idaho for public service projects.
Steve Matz, retired Forest Service archeologoist, is coordinating the multi-year project with the goal of incorporating the site into the forest’s recreational cabin rental program, which generates funding for maintenance on-site.
Info: Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District’s Fernan office at (208) 664-2318.
NATIONAL FORESTS — Forest fire lookout historians have arranged to install a memorial at the site lightning struck in 1967 setting off a huge wildfire in the Selkirk Mountains north of Sandpoint.
Following is the update from Ray Kresek, author, historian and host to a forest fire lookout museum in has backyard in west Spokane. (See video above. Call for a tour).
The large 3” thick cedar signs have now been carved, painted, linseed oiled, and are ready to hang on the posts
already planted atop Sundance Mountain as soon as the snow is gone at the site. It’ll be a while though. At last report, there’s still almost 15’ of snow on the ground at the memorial site 300’ from Sundance Lookout. It is situated just over the leeward edge of the summit, where winter snowdrifts are last to leave. An average snow year, the fire origin site would be free of snow by the 4th of July. This year, a near record snow year, it’s anybody’s guess.
We wish to thank the Webley Brothers Lumber Company in Colville, WA for their generous contribution of three fine cedar planks, with a personal attachment (both were among the 1967 Sundance firefighters); Dave Kresek and Altek Company for computer carving the signs; and those members of the Forest Fire Lookout Ass’n. for their help building the interpretive site trail.Ray KresekFire Lookout MuseumContact:(509) 466-9171; email firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLIC LANDS — Here's another wake up call for anyone contemplating a summer Forest Service cabin or lookout rental.
The rental season for the former ranger home along the St. Joe River is Memorial Day weekend through September.
Most federal lands cabin and fire lookout rentals as well as camping reservations are handled online or by phone through Recreation.gov, the national first-come-first served reservations system.
For example, the Surveyor's Ridge Lookout rental in the mountains high above the St. Joe is handled by the national system, allowing reservations to be made up to 180 days in advance.
However, the Red Ives Cabin, which includes a former ranger home, is handled locally in a lottery drawing.
More than 400 applications were submitted for 50 reservations last year, said District Ranger Wade Sims.
Click here for a previous post on renting the popular Kelly Creek Cabin and other sites on the Clearwater National Forest.
Read on for details on applying for the Red Ives Cabin, Surveyor's Lookout and the Clarkia Bunkhouse.
PUBLIC LANDS — Most rentals for cabins and fire lookouts on national forests and parks are reserved on a national reservation system that allows the public to book dates no more than 180 days in advance.
Check out the National Recreation Reservation Service online or call (877) 444-6777 for a complete list of facilities, to check available dates or to make reservations for most federal facilities nationwide.
Click here for details on an exception to the national reservation system: the lottery for reserving the Red Ives Cabin on the St. Joe River.
Indeed, if you're making plans for prime time this summer, it's time to get your act together if you hope to reserve a night in a popular room with a view.
Read on for specific information regarding cabins and lookouts in the Clearwater National Forest, including Kelly Creek areas.
NATIONAL FORESTS — Ray Kresek, author of “Fire Lookouts of the Northwest,” maintains a Fire Lookout Museum in north Spokane available to the public by appointment.
Contact:(509) 466-9171; email email@example.com
Kresek recently was honored by the U.S. Forest Service with a national Smokey Bear Award.
Kresek began leading the effort to preserve the Salmo-Priest Wilderness in 1968. Wilderness status was achieved in 1984.
FORESTS — I've had a long fascination with hiking into forest fire lookouts, sometimes reserving and renting one for the ultimate room with a view.
The next-best thing is the Outdoor Idaho program that premiers Thursday on Public TV.
Eyes of the Forest explores the history of Idaho's forest lookouts through reminiscences of those who lived in them and studied them — and through journeys to many of Idaho's mountaintops.
Some lookouts are still being staffed. Others are in disrepair, while some are being restored.
More than 8,000 lookouts once dotted the nation at the peak of their usefullness a half century ago. Idaho boasted the most, with nearly 1,000 overlooking its vast forest lands and wilderness areas.