Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) secured expedited, unanimous Senate passage of legislation to protect the Green Mountain Lookout in Snohomish County. The legislation 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 has ordered the USFS to remove the cherished lookout, which serves as a critical economic driver in Snohomish County.
"In Washington state, the Green Mountain Lookout is more than a hiking destination; it's part of the Pacific Northwest's heritage, and it's a cherished, historical landmark for families in Darrington, Snohomish County and the entire region," said Senator Murray. "I was proud to lead the charge in the Senate to protect the lookout, and today's unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to do that makes this an historic day, bringing us one important step closer to protecting this landmark for generations to come."
"This is a significant step forward towards saving a community treasure for the residents of Snohomish County. This scenic lookout is a destination for locals and tourists, historians and outdoor enthusiasts," said Senator Cantwell. "Our bill would keep the Green Mountain Lookout where it belongs for future generations to enjoy. I thank the community of Darrington for its leadership on this issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill into law."
The Green Mountain Lookout is an important part 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.
Senators Murray and Cantwell have long been working to clear procedural and political hurdles in the Senate to move the bill to passage. In late 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Senator Cantwell is a member, advanced the legislation to the full Senate. In 2012, both Senators joined in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use all legal means to protect the Green Mountain Lookout in Glacier Peak Wilderness.
Next week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider companion legislation, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Suzan Delbene (WA-1). U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-2) is also a co-sponsors of the House bill.