S. 404: Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act

S. 404

Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act

Sponsor
Sen. Patty Murray

Committee
Energy and Natural Resources

Date
April 7, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, April 7, 2014, the House will consider S. 404, the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act, under a suspension of the rules. S. 404 was introduced on February 28, 2013 by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and passed the Senate by unanimous consent. S. 404 was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Bill Summary

S. 404 amends Section 4(b) of the Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984 to clarify that the designation of the Glacier Peak Wilderness does not preclude the U.S. Forest Service from operating and maintaining the Green Mountain Lookout. Moreover, this legislation prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service, from moving the Green Mountain Lookout from its current location on Green Mountain in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest unless the Secretary determines that moving it is necessary to preserve the Lookout, or to ensure the safety of individuals on or around Green Mountain. If such a determination is made, the Secretary would be required to move the Lookout to a location outside of the lands described within the Act.

Finally, S. 404 directs the Secretary of the Interior to restore land grants issued to individuals under the Alaska Native Veterans Allotment Act. The Department of the Interior voided the original grant when the agency determined that the affected lands were located in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. S. 404 clarifies that the grant only extends to surface rights to the Federal land and is subject to the right of the U.S. to income directly or indirectly derived from the land covered by the grant. The U.S. reserves any interest in oil, gas, and coal deposits on such land, including the right to explore, mine, or remove minerals.

Background

“The Green Mountain Lookout is located at the summit of the 6,500-foot Green Mountain, located in the western portion of the 573,000-acre Glacier Peak Wilderness in Washington State.”[1] The lookout was constructed in 1933 as part of a fire detection system in the North Cascade Mountains.[2] In 2002, the Forest Service determined that the lookout would need to be removed and rebuilt in order to prevent its collapse due to structural damage it suffered from heavy snowfall.[3] Due to funding constraints, the Forest Service could not return reconstructed components until 2009.[4] Wilderness Watch filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service, alleging that it had violated NEPA and the Wilderness Act by rebuilding the lookout within the Wilderness, having not undertaken the necessary environmental analysis.[5] In March 2012, the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, resulting in the Forest Service publishing a notice of intent to remove the lookout.[6] S. 404 would block this removal, and allow it to continue operation within the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

[1] Senate Report 113-140, at 2.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] Id. at 2.

[4] Id. at 2.

[5] Id. at 2.

[6] Id. at 2.

Cost

CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would have no significant net impact on the federal budget.[1] Enacting S. 404 would not affect direct spending or revenues.

[1] http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/s404.pdf

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.