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Wilderness advocates contest fire lookout historic status

WILDERNESS — While historic preservation groups praise Congressional action to keep the Green Mountain lookout standing in the

North Cascades, wilderness groups led by Montana-based Wilderness Watch, say the effort falls short of historic preservation and flies in the face of wilderness values.

Gary Macfarlane of the Friends of the Clearwater forwarded the photo above with this message:

I saw your post about the new replica Green Mountain lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Here is some background. Attached is a photo of the lookout as it was being constructed recently. It is not a historic structure.  While the original lookout was ferried across a river, packed 20 miles to the top of Green Mountain with mules, and constructed by hand, the latest incarnation was hauled in by helicopter—60-plus loads worth—and constructed using generators and power tools. 

Wilderness Watch is a national organization with headquarters in Montana. It has staff in other states and board members from around the country, including a board member in Washington. I am a board member who lives in Idaho.

Thunder storms put hikers in hot spot

WILDERNESS — I'm just back from four electrifying days of backpacking in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, catching up old news for which I had a front row seat.

Mudslides bury North Cascades Highway — Hikers stranded Monday as storms leave the vital summer passage closed over the mountains between Mazama and the Skagit Valley. The Washington State Department of Transportation says eight mudslides have buried SR 20.

Lightning pounds North Cascades — Lightning maps showed more than 7,400 strikes occurred from 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range and in Southeastern Washington, including the Glacier Peak Wilderness where I was hunkered three nights in a row wishing I had ear plugs.  Much of the thunder was concentrated in Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Franklin counties, Forest Service officials say. 

                “Significant amounts of rain fell Saturday night so some fires may not be detected for some time,” said Central Washington Interagency Communications Center Operations Coordinator Jim Duck. “Many times lightning will strike a tree and fire will smolder beneath it for some time until fuel around it dries out.”

Sen. Cantwell supports Green Mountain Lookout in wilderness

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.

Years of cleanup planned at Holden Mine above Lake Chelan

FORESTS — Backpackers passing through the Holden Village area between the Glacier Peak Wilderness and Lake Chelan will continue to seek a lot of heavy equipment activity during the environmental cleanup o fthe Holden Mine.

Federal agencies gave the formal OK to the project this week. The remedy focuses on the cleanup of hazardous substances, at levels toxic to aquatic life, in the mine ground water and mine drainage being released into nearby Railroad Creek. 

“Major construction in Phase I of the cleanup remedy should begin in 2013, and should take two years followed by five years of monitoring before Phase II of remedy construction will begin,” Holden Mine Cleanup Project Manager Norm Day said.