A public meeting is set for next week to discuss Glacier National Park's plans for stabilizing the historic Heavens Peak Fire Lookout station.
If you knew where to look, you could spot the old fire lookout tower from the Going-to-the-Sun Road by gazing up at Heavens Peak. It's there, albeit in a somewhat deteriorating condition, as you might expect after 65 years. The goal of the project, park officials say, is to repair the 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.
The lookout was built in 1945 by conscientious objectors in the Civilian Public Service. It was in operation from its construction in 1945 through the 1953 fire season when it was abandoned in favor of aerial fire detection, according to a park release.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986; however, the original historic fabric and structural integrity of the lookout is being lost through lack of maintenance and harsh weather conditions, the release adds.
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.
On Wednesday, March 2, there will be a public meeting on the proposal. It will be held at the Flathead National Forest Hungry Horse Ranger Station from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Park managers will be on hand to outline their proposal.
Two alternatives are analyzed in the Plan/EA: 1) Alternative A (No Action), and 2) Alternative B (Preferred). Under Alternative A (no action), no action would be taken to prevent further deterioration. Alternative B, the action alternative, would structurally stabilize the Heavens Peak Fire Lookout. The building’s roofing system would be repaired and new roofing installed, and the floor would be repaired. Window and door components would be repaired, Plexiglass would be placed in selected windows for viewing purposes, shutters would be repaired or replaced, exterior and some interior surfaces would be re-painted and minor re-pointing, masonry, and concrete repairs would be made where necessary. Up to 12 helicopter flights would be used to deliver tools and materials to the work site and remove debris.
The Plan/EA is available for review through the park’s planning Web site: http://parkplanning.nps.gov or http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=61&projectID=32453&docum... where comments may be submitted directly through the Web site. Written comments may also be mailed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Heavens Peak EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.