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Originally published Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 3:07 PM

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Editorial: Surveying the future and preserving the past at the Green Mountain lookout

Congressional action to preserve the Green Mountain fire lookout takes on new meaning for the region around the Oso mudslide.


Seattle Times Editorial

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THE Green Mountain Lookout will be preserved, under a law signed Tuesday by President Obama. Washington lawmakers worked to put this protection in place.

The fate of the U.S. Forest Service fire lookout loomed large. What began in February as a worthy effort to protect a threatened piece of Washington heritage in the Glacier Peak Wilderness took on special meaning after the devastating March 22 mudslide.

The president is scheduled to visit the Oso mudslide Tuesday and meet with families, first responders and community leaders from nearby Darrington. This week, Gov. Jay Inslee directed state flags to fly at half-staff through Tuesday.

The lookout has drawn hikers for decades, and earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Reconstruction of the 81-year-old structure prompted a lawsuit for violations of federal wilderness regulations.

The challenge prevailed, and a federal judge ruled the rebuilt fire lookout should be removed. Washington lawmakers went into action to save it. U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, and Rick Larsen, D-Everett, teamed up in the House, and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell took the lead in the Senate.

The Oso tragedy intensified efforts. In her Senate floor speech, Murray said the bill would “provide a glimmer of hope for the long-term recovery of this region — and in particular the community of Darrington.”

After congressional approval, Economic Alliance Snohomish County noted, “This will have positive long-term economic effects as it will help maintain and increase recreational tourism to the area and increase the attractiveness of the region overall.”

Looking ahead and persevering is part of respecting the memory of those lost in the tragedy.

For example, Washington State University visitors met with local community leaders to discuss ideas that include creation of a biomass fuels project in the Darrington area.

Eventually, a cleared highway will facilitate rebuilding efforts, and carry tourists and hikers toward local trails and vistas, including the Green Mountain Lookout.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



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