LOOKOUT TOWER CHALLENGE (LTC)
Carolina Mountain Club & Forest Fire Lookout Association
LOOKOUT TOWER PRESERVATION
This is the primary goal of the NC chapter of the FFLA is the preservation of North Carolina’s remaining fire lookout towers. No longer used for fire detection, many of the state’s lookouts are a victim of neglect they have suffered from vandalism, deterioration, and damage from the weather. Their modern use by administrative agencies is over and they therefore garnish no funding for their routine upkeep and maintenance. With continued deterioration, many towers are viewed as liabilities and will ultimately be dismantled and removed. Over a third of North Carolina’s lookout towers that once stood watch over the forests are now gone forever. It is the goal of the FFLA to prevent the further removal of these historic structures, and the maintenance of current towers even if in acceptable condition. In time, the chapter wishes to establish a volunteer corps for routine tower maintenance, especially for those towers incorporated into hiking trail systems. Click here for information on tower needs.
Lookout towers are historic structures where men and women watched over the forest protecting it by reporting fires for half a century. Sadly, their historical significance has become forgotten by the agencies who utilized them. Many NC lookout towers are in dire need of partial or complete rehabilitation. The chapter will initiate restoration projects for towers in most need of repair and threatened most by removal. In addition to organizational support, the FFLA will seek public and private funding for these projects, solicit for structural materials and supplies, and provide a volunteer labor team to the sites. Click here for information on current restoration projects.
In addition to their historic value, lookout towers offer scenic vantage points of the surrounding forest—often wild and beautiful land that we hold dear as a natural and recreational resource. Their 360 degree views provide breathtaking vistas, often hard earned after a climb up a mountain. The towers also serve as a public symbol of forest fire prevention and natural resource conservation. Many towers in the state are restricted from public access and many others lack the ability to enjoy the views from their cabs and catwalks. The NC chapter of FFLA seeks to continually improve access to lookout towers for the public, particularly those in western North Carolina with the most sought after panoramas. Though the towers no longer detect fires, their value for public recreation and interpretation remains high and it is a goal of the chapter to promote lookouts as hiking and travel destinations. Click here for up to date access information.