Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Representatives Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Rick Larsen (WA-02) announced that legislation to protect the Green Mountain Lookout in Snohomish County has been signed into law by President Obama. The new law comes after a group based in Montana filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for using a helicopter and machinery to repair the lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. As a result, the U.S. District Court had ordered the USFS to remove the cherished lookout, which serves as a critical economic driver in Snohomish County. Murray, Cantwell, DelBene and Larsen led a bipartisan, bicameral effort to protect the critical landmark that was accelerated in the aftermath of the tragic SR-530 landslide. Communities impacted by the landslide rely on the lookout to help support their local tourism economy.
"The Green Mountain Lookout is federally protected today because local leaders and lawmakers from different parties all came together to help a community that needed some good news at a time when there was little to look forward to," said Senator Murray. "My hope now is that amid the difficult process of healing and rebuilding, this law can be a small, but important step in showing these communities that they can get back on their feet. This certainly cannot be the only step that we take to help the tourism industry that will be so essential to long-term recovery efforts in the region, and that's why I'm looking forward to working with the recreation community and local leaders on additional steps going forward."
"Today's signing marks the culmination of a community effort to save a treasured Snohomish County landmark," Senator Cantwell said. "Today, President Obama signed legislation that will preserve the Green Mountain Lookout for future generations to enjoy. I appreciate the work of the residents of Darrington, along with my colleagues in the Washington state delegation to secure bipartisan passage of this important bill."
"Now that the President has signed this legislation into law, a treasured local landmark in the Darrington community -- and for hikers near and far -- has been saved," said Rep. DelBene. "This law protects and supports an important part of the outdoor recreation economy and is welcome news for an inspiring community that has endured an unthinkable tragedy."
"As Oso, Darrington and the surrounding communities continue the hard work of recovery following the 530 mudslide, protecting the Green Mountain Lookout is one way Congress and now the President can show solidarity and support," said Rep. Larsen. "Preserving this iconic lookout invests in the longer term economic recovery of a region that relies on outdoor recreation and tourism for their livelihoods. I am deeply pleased to have led efforts to keep this Northwest landmark in place for residents and visitors to enjoy long into the future."
The Green Mountain Lookout is an important feature of the Puget Sound region, and reflects a unique and vanishing part of the Pacific Northwest's heritage. It is one of few surviving fire lookouts in the West, and only one of six such lookouts located within a Wilderness area. It was also an early warning station during World War II to alert citizens to possible aerial invasion. The Washington State Trust for Historic Preservation named it one of the ten most endangered buildings last year, before the court made its decision.