The best use for a lookout is to continue to detect fires from its original location. The worst case scenario is the destruction of any of the remaining fire lookouts. However, many, if not most, fire lookouts are not being utilized, and are systematically being destroyed, dismantled and left to vandals and decay. The FFLA agrees that in order to have any chance of long-term survival, a fire lookout must be regularly maintained and used. The more a lookout is occupied by people, the less it will be vandalized. And without maintenance, weather will continue to take its toll on all lookouts over time. It defeats the purpose to restore them without purpose, as they will again deteriorate.
Many fire lookouts are not located on publicly owned land and in many cases, agencies that operated these lookouts only had leases with easements for access that called for the removal of the lookout from private property once use has ceased. Without agency accountability, these lookouts have even less of a chance to survive.
With these thoughts in mind, the FFLA presents these options for the disposition of the remaining fire lookouts (in order of preference):
1. Keep in place - Staff the lookout for fire detection by traditional means with a paid employee
2. Keep in place - Staff the lookout for fire detection by non-traditional means (i.e. using a volunteer group, contractors, lease agreement, etc.)
3. Keep in place - Find a non-traditional method to maintain the facility for non-traditional purposes (i.e. recreation rental, wildlife observations, interpretation, housing electronic equipment, etc.)
4. Keep in place - Transfer ownership from agency to private organization or group who agree to operate and maintain the lookout for some ongoing purpose of its own.
5. Keep in place - Sell or lease to an individual who would continue to use and maintain the facility for his own purposes, but not be allowed to remove the lookout.
6. Move entire lookout to a suitable public site where it would continue to be used and regularly maintained.
7. Sell lookout to private bidder contingent upon their agreement to rebuild the lookout on some other property, including their own private property.
8. Move a part of the lookout facility to a suitable public site (i.e. leave a ground cabin, move the tower). We do not consider the destroying of any lookout an option. However, if a lookout is dismantled for destruction, an effort should be made to salvage the lookout for parts to be used to repair or restore other fire lookouts.
(Adopted at FFLA Board Meeting in Roanoke, VA January 2005)