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Needles Fire Tower in Limbo

On July 28, 2011, the fire lookout at The Needles in Sequoia National Forest was destroyed by fire. Margee Kelly, the USFS Forestry Technician who has made the tower her residence for more than twenty summers escaped safely, but the lookout is a total loss. 

At this time the US Forest service and Giant Sequoia National Monument officials are considering rebuilding the lookout. The Buck Rock Foundation [Link to the Needles-Specific Page], a non-profit organization whose mission statement includes “restoring fire lookouts and other historic facilities in accordance with all government and historical standards and guidelines,” can serve as a clearinghouse for contributions but this effort cannot proceed until the Forest Service makes its decision regarding the fate of the lookout.

If you are among the many thousands of climbers and hikers who think the historic and spectacular NeedlesLookout should be rebuilt now is the time to make your voice heard. Please write to the District Ranger for The Western Divide Ranger District and also to the Supervisor of Sequoia National Forest. 

District Ranger Priscilla Summers
Western Divide Ranger District
32588 Highway 190
Springville, CA 93265
Email: psummers@fs.fed.us

Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Deb Whitman
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

Some key points to include (feel free to copy & paste)…

· The Needles Lookout is listed in the National Registry of Historical Places.

· Since its construction in 1938 The Needles Lookout has been visited by many thousands of climbers, hikers, naturalists, photographers and scientists among others due to its unique position high atop The Magician Needle. Many visiting climbers from around the world have had their first good look at The Needles from the tower, and have gained valuable information from the old guidebooks and maps kept there.

· In addition to climbers, there is a much larger group who cherished the lookout. Since its construction it has been an attraction for countless hikers. Hiking clubs, scout groups and school and church groups revisit the lookout annually. Businesses from Porterville to Ponderosa and on down to Kernville and California Hot Springs all benefit from the travellers passing through to visit the famed Needles Lookout.

· I am very optimistic that if a properly organized fund raising effort is orchestrated, reaching out to hikers, climbers, charitable foundations and the general public, people will respond generously. Kathy Allison, at The Buck Rock Foundation welcomes the idea of using her organization as a clearing house for contributions and volunteer efforts, but she is also very clear that any initial decision to restore the lookout will have to come from the U.S. Forest Service. In order for such an effort to be undertaken I writing to urge that the USFS make the decision that the historic Needles Lookout should be rebuilt.