Volunteers Restore Kelly Butte Lookout
On September 11th, the Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest hosted a Kelly Butte Lookout re-opening dedication and volunteer appreciation ceremony. WTA member and assistant crew leader Bob Adler was recognized for his five years of work to restore the lookout. And Washington Trails Association was recognized for its assistance in building a series of rock steps on the trail to Kelly Butte. And
WTA member and assistant crew leader Bob Adler just finished five years coordinating his own cadre of volunteers and contributing countless hours to restore the Kelly Butte fire lookout building in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Though he had never worked on restoring a fire lookout before, Bob was happy to jump in when the National Forest Fire Lookout Association tapped him to recruit and coordinate volunteers. A half-decade and 3,000 hours later, it is complete.
On September 11th, the Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest hosted a Kelly Butte Lookout re-opening dedication and volunteer appreciation ceremony. Washington Trails Association was recognized for its assistance in building a series of rock steps on the trail to Kelly Butte.
Guests from as far away as Washington, DC and Alaska attended, including: Dr. Keith Argo, Chairman and National Registrar of the Forest Fire Lookout Association (FFLA); Forest Clark, local chapter representative of the FFLA; Daniel Leen, who manned Kelly Butte in the late 1960s; and John Sandor, who traveled from Alaska to be at the ceremony.
Sandor was just 16 when he arrived at Kelly Butte in 1943. “It was during WWII,” he said, “and all the adult men were fighting the war. The Forest Service came to schools to recruit high school boys for the fire lookouts.” He recalled his first day on the job. After multiple trips over steep terrain with a full pack to supply the lookout for the season, he was ready to prepare his first fire lookout meal. Coming from a family of eight children, Sandor watched his mother prepare many meals and felt he could scare up a pretty good dinner for himself. That night, his spaghetti dinner turned out to be a “gluey glob of sticky pasta noodles in the shape of a cooking-pot.”
“Returning to Kelly Butte is wonderful, just wonderful” Sandor said. “But the best part of all this, is the dedication of volunteers and the wonderful partnerships made in the effort to restore Kelly Butte.”
Indeed it was the partnerships that made this restoration effort successful: the Forest Fire Lookout Association, the Forest Service and WTA, as well as volunteers Bob Adler, Forest Clark and dozens of others recruited by Adler and WTA.
Sandor was unable to hike to the lookout building, but it was important to him to see people enjoy the fire lookout he tended nearly 70 years ago. He watched the lookout intently with his sharp eye, and suddenly, the ridge bristled with hikers as they moved toward the lookout, and Sandor was happy. Many years have passed since he was 16, and volunteers like Bob Adler, Forest Clark and Ray Fischer, to name a few, did a great honor to lookouts John Sandor, Daniel Leen, and to all those who enjoy the history and romance of fire lookouts.
Hats off to you, Bob Adler!