If you knew where to look, you could spot the old fire lookout tower atop Heavens Peak in Glacier National Park. It's there, albeit in a somewhat deteriorating condition, as you might expect after 65 years. That's why park officials want to develop a stabilization plan to shore-up the historic tower built by conscientious objectors during World War II.
The goal of the project, park officials say, is to repair the Heavens Peak lookout so it can stand for another 20 years. The work would slow down the accelerating deterioration so that this historic structure can remain on the landscape as part of Glacier’s cultural history, they add.
Constructed in 1945, the Heavens Peak Lookout was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and embodies the NPS rustic design philosophy of buildings that are “harmonious” with the landscape. The lookout is located on Heavens Peak, within recommended wilderness inside Glacier National Park. It lies within an area of high grizzly bear density.
Park officials say the lookout is structurally sound at this time, but that the deteriorating roof and missing shutters threaten its long-term survival. The proposed project, estimated to cost $80,000 and funded in large part by the Glacier National Park Fund, is being reviewed under an environmental assessment. The scope of work calls for repairs to the roof, shutters and exposed exterior wood surfaces, painting of the exterior, and stabilization of the masonry.
The park's proposal would not, however, include blazing a trail to the lookout to make it easier for park visitors to see this piece of the past. While folks can bushwhack through alder forests to reach the lookout, relatively few currently do because of the daunting task.
In addition to the proposed action, two other alternatives have been identified to date: 1) no action, in which case the lookout would eventually be lost, and 2) rehabilitation that would fully rehabilitate the lookout and re-build the trail access to the lookout.
Comments and concerns on the proposed Heavens Peak Stabilization project should be submitted online by Monday, August 16, at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/glac or mailed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Heavens Peak Lookout EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936. There will be another opportunity for review and comment when the environmental assessment is completed.
Traveler's recommendation: Restore the lookout and maintain a trail so park visitors can more easily see this historic facility. Currently, you can spy the lookout from the Granite Park Chalet and from a point along "the Loop" of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Or you can bushwhack up the mountainside.