Big Hole Peak 2016 - Passport in Time

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Current Projects > 2016
Montana - Lolo NF
Closed! Big Hole Peak Lookout Rehabilitation, Final Phase

Bigholepeaklookout2015 by USDA Forest Service/Erika Karuzas
Big Hole Peak Lookout

July 26-29; August 1-4, 2016

Must commit to one entire session; may participate in both

Join us again this summer as we conclude our efforts to “reconstruct the past” at Big Hole Lookout! Big Hole Peak Lookout was built in 1930 for what was originally called the Cabinet National Forest. It is a ‘Grange Hall’-type lookout: a structure built atop a short talus foundation. This type of lookout predates the standard design seen in most other areas, and due to the difficulty in its construction, is quite rare. In fact, Big Hole Peak Lookout is one of only two lookouts of its kind on the Lolo that remain intact! It saw its last use as a fire lookout in 1972, and although afterward abandoned, was determined eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic places (NRHP) in 1984. Although the site has long been deserted, there is a strong desire on the part of the local public to preserve this old structure and to make it available for recreational use. District staff members have received numerous comments, suggestions, and even offers from local residents to help repair the structure. So, once again, with your help, we will take the final steps toward making those wishes come true!

Thus far, we have cleaned up packrat droppings and other potential hazards, stabilized the rock foundation, replaced severely rotted logs on the cabin’s west side, re-roofed the structure with new cedar shingles, replaced the chimney jack, stovepipe and stove, and reinforced lightning protection structures. In the winter of 2013, in preparation for Phase II, we fixed the windows to get them ready for installation. Since then, PIT volunteers and FS staff have completed or have begun a number of other tasks, such as replacing rotted logs, installing the windows, removing old paint, and repairing the door and damaged hardware, and so on. This year, we will have to begin by cleaning out the structure and removing any potential Hantavirus threat, as always – don’t worry, the Forest Service will do that for everyone! After that, we will complete the work on the floors and ceiling, install the newly repaired door, install and reconstruct replica furniture, put the final touches of paint on the exterior and, at last, prepare the Lookout to roll into the FS Cabin Rental Program! As always, it promises to be sweaty and dirty work, but in the end, we’ll have had a lot of fun, and you’ll be able to say that you helped breathe life back into one of the Lolo National Forest’s most valuable gems. Make sure to bring your appetites and your favorite pair of hiking shoes (sturdy and broken in) – we hope you’ll join us for the final stretch in July and August!

Number of openings: 8 (4 per session)

Special skills: Must be physically capable of hiking moderate distances (2.5 miles each direction) along an established Forest Service trail; must also be physically capable of lifting/bending/kneeling/standing/stooping for extended periods (10 hours) each day in a variety of weather conditions and near the edge of a steep cliff; previous carpentry, construction, painting, general maintenance, and/or historic building restoration experience helpful, but not required

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: Dispersed tent camping at no charge, on-site near Lookout (2.5 miles from trailhead); pit toilet at facility, water provided by FS; the Region 1 Pack String will assist in packing project and volunteer supplies and equipment in, and the local Back Country Horsemen and the Region Back Country Packer teams will pack us out; all meals provided by FS; volunteers responsible for personal camping equipment, own work gloves, safety glasses/goggles, water bottle, and transportation to and from initial, designated meeting area – and you are welcome (though not required) to bring your own, favorite tools!

Please note: as indicated in the dates, there will be a 2-day break during the session. However, uninterrupted, on-site camping will be available the entire period, July 26 – August 4.

Nearest towns: Plains, 31 miles

Applications due: May 23, 2016

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