The Malheur National Forest has released a draft Facility Master Plan and a draft Recreation Facility Master Plan for the various buildings and facilities they are responsible for. Here is what they have to say about the lookouts:
There are 15 fire lookouts on the Forest of which 8 are staffed. One lookout is used as a recreation rental.
The Black Butte, Frazier, Bald Butte, Dry Mountain, King Mountain and West Myrtle lookouts are no longer needed for the fire program and require a significant investment to make the facilities safe for human occupancy. Administrative maintenance funds should no longer be used on these sites. At a minimum, the towers should be secured to prevent public access. Clearance from SHPO will be necessary on structures eligible for historic status prior to decommissioning.
The Dixie Butte, Dry Soda, Flagtail, Indian Rock, Antelope, Calamity, Snow Mountain and Sugarloaf Lookouts are staffed 4-5 months per year during fire season. All the lookouts have loose guy wires, outdated propane systems, loose railings or split cross bracing, and suspect lightning protection. In some cases, the cab needs maintenance and the deck planking needs repair. The flat cabs need roof replacements. The lookout siding, railing and stairs may have lead based paint and the lookout cabs may contain asbestos material.
Recommendations for specific lookouts:
Antelope: Retain for existing use
Bald Butte: Decomission
Black Butte: Due to the extensive repairs needed this lookout is not recommended for use as a
Calamity Butte Tower: Retain for existing use
Calamity Butte ground cabin: Retain for alternate use
Dixie Butte: Retain for existing use
Dry Mountain: Decomission
Dry Soda: Retain for existing use
Fall Mountain: Retain for existing use
Flagtail: Retain for existing use
King Mountain: Decommission
Indian Rock: Evaluate the need for staffing this lookout considering fire coverage from other lookouts in the area – if it’s determined not to be needed – decommission this lookout due to the extensive repair work needed.
Snow Mountain: Retain for existing use
Sugarloaf: Determine the long-term need for the lookout and if possible decommission all buildings on the site
West Myrtle: Decommission (There have been preliminary discussions to include the site in the recreation rental program. The cost to bring the buildings to a safe habitable standard will likely exceed $100,000.)