Montana - Lolo NF
Skookum Butte Lookout Restoration, Phase IV
Skookum Butte South Elevation in 2021
September 6-10, 2022 (including weekends)
Volunteers must commit to entire session
We are eager to invite volunteers back for ‘Phase IV’ of our multiyear Skookum Butte Restoration project! Skookum Butte Lookout, a ‘Grange Hall’-type structure, was built on the Lolo National Forest in 1928, and is one of only two intact lookouts of its kind in the area. Although the site is no longer used for fire detection (it was ‘retired’ by the FS in the 1970s), it continues to be a hiking destination for local Outfitter/Guide services, youth summer camp groups, and the general public. There is currently a strong local public desire to preserve the historic property for recreational use, and it’s now eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP); it is already listed on the National Historic Lookout Register (NHLR).
This fall, after a two-year hiatus, we’ll return to the Lookout and, in cooperation with the Region One Historic Preservation Team (HPT), the Lolo NF Heritage Program, and the Region One Packstring Team, to focus on crafting and putting on the finishing touches! At present, our schedule will follow this basic outline:
First, we’ll establish a suitable base camp, satellite work locations, and staging and evacuation areas. Once those are in place, we’ll finish crafting logs for the north wall, then install them, and complete all remaining log repairs there and the remainder of the structure. Following the log installation and repairs, we’ll mount the refurbished windows and shutters. Our final steps will involve installing trim throughout the interior and exterior of the Lookout, and applying finishing coats of paint within and without.
This is certainly not a project for those squeamish about heights! While the structure is on the ground, it’s at high altitude and perched on a large outcrop of granite with limited space to move around the outside. It also involves a daily hike up a steep, one-mile trail to the worksite. We’ll be camping the duration of the PIT project, and the Packstring will carry our gear for us from our gathering place to the base camp. At best, the weather is…unpredictable…in Montana, and we’ll be working at an elevation of 7,215 feet (asl). So, please be prepared with layers of cold and warm weather gear. We will be working five (5), nine-hour days over the course of the restoration efforts. It will all be worth the “roughing” in the end, though, and you are in for some astonishing views. With your help, this historic gem should gleam like it did in its heyday – see you in September!
Please note: all volunteers will be required to follow current COVID-19 guidelines, which may include social-distancing, providing proof of qualifying vaccinations, and/or the wearing of masks. Further, due to the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, this project could be amended, postponed, or canceled. Selected volunteers are encouraged to remain in contact with project leads to stay apprised of any changes.
Number of openings: 6
Special skills: Volunteers must be physically capable of hiking a steep, 1-mile trail each day, be sure-footed, comfortable with heights, and able to work in a small space atop a windy, uneven rock platform; personal water bottle and work gloves required; safety goggles helpful, and bring your favorite tool(s) if you like! Previous log-work, carpentry, painting, and/or restoration experience helpful, but not required
Minimum age: 18 years old
Facilities: Tent camping at base of Skookum Butte, a semi-remote area with no running water and a primitive (pit) toilet and shower facility; hot meals, coffee breaks, and water provided each day; volunteers responsible for own camping equipment, water bottle, gloves, and transportation to and from the designated meeting area; please come prepared with layers of suitable cold and warm weather gear
Nearest towns: Lolo, ~22 miles; Missoula, ~30 miles; Hamilton, ~45 miles
Applications due: July 18, 2022