Cantwell-Backed Bill to Save Green Mountain Lookout Supported by Key Committee Chairman
At Senate Energy Business Meeting today, Chairman Wyden pledges to swiftly move bill forward
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) secured a commitment from a key committee chairman to quickly move forward on a bill to preserve the historic Green Mountain Lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness near Darrington, Washington.
At a hearing today, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR), recognized Cantwell and U.S. Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) work on preserving the Green Mountain Lookout and pledged to move the bill ‘expeditiously.’ His comment came after Cantwell highlighted that the bill should be considered due to its importance to Washington state.
View video of Cantwell’s opening statement here.
“Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the markup on such important lands bills,” Cantwell said at today’s business meeting. “I had hoped that the Green Mountain Lookout Bill that is sponsored by Senator Murray and myself would have made it on the agenda. I understand some people had some concerns about that bill and so we’ve accepted that we are holding that bill over for further comments.”
Chairman Wyden replied: “Senator Cantwell, first I want the record to reflect – I think you and Senator Murray are doing very good work on this Green Mountain effort. And I am going to make sure that we move this legislation expeditiously. And I appreciate your bringing that up and I intend to work with you on that and all the other matters.”
On July 30, 2013, Cantwell urged the Public Lands, Forestry and Mining Subcommittee of the ENR Committee to move forward on the legislation to save the Green Mountain Lookout. At that hearing a representative of the U.S. Forest Service voiced the Department’s approve for the bill, mentioning that local residents wanted the lookout to remain at Green Mountain.
“The Department supports the bill,” said Deputy Chief Weldon in her prepared testimony on July 30. “The Green Mountain Lookout represents a slice in time of the history of the area, and is a feature that is appreciated by many visitors. S.404 would provide the opportunity for future wilderness visitors to see how human influence has shaped our wildlands.”
Senators Cantwell and Murray introduced the Green Mountain bill on February 28, 2013. U.S. Representatives Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Suzan DelBene (WA-01) introduced companion legislation in the House.
The need for the legislation arose after a Montana-based group sued the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for using a helicopter and machinery to repair the Green Mountain Lookout. Subsequently in 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ordered that the USFS needed to move forward with the lookout’s removal.
During World War II the Green Mountain Lookout, located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, served as an early warning station to detect enemy aircraft. Today it is one of only 16 remaining fire lookouts originally managed by the USFS in Northwest Washington.
The introduction of the bill followed an unsuccessful legal challenge to the District Court’s decision. Senators and Representatives from Washington had sent a letter in May 2012 to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, urging the department to use all legal means necessary to preserve the Green Mountain Lookout’s location in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
A full transcript of the exchange at today’s hearing follows.
Cantwell: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the markup on such important lands bills. I had hoped that the Green Mountain Lookout Bill that is sponsored by Senator Murray and myself would have made it on the agenda. I understand some people had some concerns about that bill and so we’ve accepted that we are holding that bill over for further comments. I have to say that late last night – or the end of yesterday – we received the amendments for S.258 so we’ve had very little time to look at that. I will not ask that that bill be held over, but I am certainly not ready to support that legislation at this point in time. I think dealing with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NEPA concerns are always of great concern. I appreciate that my colleagues are trying to be creative but on such an importation subject I am not prepared to vote for S. 258 today so thank you.
Wyden: Senator Cantwell, first I want the record to reflect – I think you and Senator Murray are doing very good work on this Green Mountain effort. And I am going to make sure that we move this legislation expeditiously. And I appreciate your bringing that up and I intend to work with you on that and all the other matters. I think we have had some success on Bonneville in the last couple of weeks and to no small degree that is because of your good work.
Cantwell: Well again I will just emphasize looking at one lookout as part of our oversight versus looking at changing NEPA – I will have to have a lot more look at S. 258 before I am willing to support it. Thank you.
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