Grouse Ridge Restoration - Meeting Notes, April & September

April 8, 2010, Welcome and Introductions – Joe Chavez, FS Recreation Officer

Joe welcomed everyone and started the introductions. Self introductions were made – some new faces were in attendance. Great to have additional folks interested in this process! Please forward this message to anyone who would be interested!

** New Subchapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association – Larry Gruver, Project Manager

Larry announced that the Grouse Ridge Lookout has the support of the Forest Fire Lookout Association as the new Tahoe subchapter. As a non-profit, donations can be accepted. And a $500 grant has been given by the FFLA as seed money for the restoration effort. We are on our way!!

Contracting – Larry and Brian Wagner, Volunteer Lead Contractor

Larry introduced Brian Wagner who presented information on the materials needed and a draft work schedule. In the draft schedule, the work was broken into the amount of work that could be completed in a weekend. The schedule identified 6 weekends for the completion of the lookout – from the initial removal of damaged material to the paint and finish stage. It was suggested that some of the work could be done pre-fab at the Forest Service Loma Rica facility. Brian also reminded the group that various issues could come up which would delay the timeline. Larry will be the contact for anyone with ideas on donated materials so that we don’t repeatedly ask the same local vendors.

Historic Approval and Consultation – Bill Slater, FS Archeologist

Bill stated that he is working on the project report to go to the State Historic Preservation Office which will need to approve the plans before the project can get started. Bill estimated that it will take 6 weeks for approval once the report has been submitted.

Time Line – Joe Chavez

Joe estimated that it would be late June before the snow has melted sufficiently to access the lookout. With so many variables it is hard to calculate when the work would be completed. If all went as clockwork, the lookout could be finished in the fall. Perhaps a more reasonable timeline would include completing the exterior this year and the interior of the lookout, the following year.

Volunteers and Donations – Joe Chavez

Joe passed out a volunteer form and asked anyone working on project to fill it out and turn into the Forest Service. No matter whether one is pounding nails, developing plans, or staffing an information booth – the form needs to be filled out. Contact Larry, Joe or Ann for a copy of the form. Joe also reminded folks that due to a government regulations, anyone making donations of supplies or equipment can not be a contractor with the Forest Service. For more information on this, contact Joe.

New Website Showcased – Ann Westling

Thanks to Pascale Fusshoeller from Yubanet who created the initial website! The address is www.grouseridgelookout.com (now www.grouseridgelookout.org). Currently there is one photo and the notes from the meeting last fall. Additional elements to include: more photos, work schedules, fund raising information, and special events. If anyone has photos or information that they would like to have posted on the site, send them to Ann Westling. Thank you, Pascale and Yubanet!

Fund Raising – Chris Hersey and Michael Biolchini

The amount of funding needed to fully complete the project has been estimated at $25,000. With the funding from the FFLA ($500) and the Forest Service ($2500), an additional $22,000 is needed. Chris Hersey presented an overview of the ideas from the fundraising committee to include: donation campaign focused on community and corporate donors and community awareness with information at community functions. The fundraising committee has been meeting at 5:30 on Tuesdays in April and May. The rollout of the fundraising effort will be in May. All are welcome to assist with this – in fact, more volunteers are and will be needed especially to staff information tables and displays. Anyone with ideas on possible donors – please contact Rich Veal – 272-7109. If we each find 3 people to donate $100 or more, we will be on our way!

Other Items

Joe shared that it is not safe for accessing the lookout now with snowmobiles due to the outward slope of the snow on the switchbacks. Propane lights were discussed. Solar panels were discussed again.

Stories, photos or artwork?

If anyone has stories from early lookouts, old or more current photos, or artwork, please contact Ann Westling – 478-6205 or awestling@fs.fed.us. We would like to include these items at the lookout or on the webpage.

September 23 Meeting Notes

Grouse Ridge History – Bill Slater, District Archeologist

Grouse is the second oldest lookout remaining on the TNF – built in 1923. There are 11 of this same type of lookout in the Nation and 4 in California. This lookout is eligible for the National Historic Register thus the restoration will need to follow historic guidelines. The asbestos siding which was added after the lookout was constructed has been removed. The building is structurally intact. Various concrete piers and stabilizing rods have been added over the years. The outhouse (room with a view) was added after the lookout was initially built, is in a state of disrepair, but with some work, could continue to be used. Various Forest Service electronic equipment and associated solar panels have been added fairly recently. The windows and doors have been covered in plywood and will need to be replaced.

Lookout Rental – How It Works – Joe Chavez, District Recreation Officer

The lookout would be rented through the National Recreation Reservation System, similar to the rental lookouts on the eastern side of the TNF. Those rent for $45 a night and the funds go toward the repair and upkeep of the facility. Calpine is rented most every weekend of the year and through the week – most weeks. It opened in 2004. Sardine is undergoing restoration at this time and is expected to open for rental in the spring, 2010. Pricing for Grouse rental has not been established – may be more. Visitors would obtain a key for the lock – similar to a lock box that real estate agents use.

Costs to Repair the Lookout – Joe Chavez – District Recreation Officer

The costs were estimated by the Forest Service construction personnel. Estimate is included at the end of the notes, however, it was discussed that this estimate may be quite low. Skills needed include construction design, carpentry, cement work, roofers, haulers, painters, etc.

The road will take some additional upkeep from the Forest Service. This will need to be included in the annual Forest Service road maintenance schedule. Some large rocks will need to be placed along the edge of the road near the lookout for safety.

General Discussion

Construction Plan

Several volunteers with a contracting background volunteered to assist with the construction design and planning. These include Michael Biolchini, Jim Sepeda, Shawn Ferrell, and Brian Wagner. They will also review the budget and make necessary changes.

It was also suggested that this group identify the supplies needed and to develop a spread sheet listing the needs. It was suggested to go to various local businesses to obtain supplies needed as donations or at reduced cost.

Concern about using Trex or similar product was expressed – primarily due to its ability to hold up in the extreme environment of the lookout, but also due to its non-historic nature.

Several ideas concerning windows were discussed with the need to provide ventilation as well as screening.

Restoration Plans

There was concern expressed about the solar panels and the lack of historic nature. A suggestion was made to look at relocating the panels near the lookout, but not on it. The Forest Service said that the solar panels and radio towers are critical to the firefighting communication system and so will not be removed from the general area but they would consider reviewing other options, depending on cost and feasibility.

Donations

Donations of funding and supplies would be desirable. The Forest Service can accept both, however, the FS can not solicit funds. This is where volunteers will be needed to assist with obtaining contributions. A storage facility will be needed to store the supplies. It was suggested to look for local community donations – various foundations as well as local service clubs and donations of supplies from local businesses.

Security

There have been security issues at the Grouse Lookout with graffiti spray painted on the exterior and the interior damaged. Several participants said, however, with people renting the lookout, this type of vandalism might be reduced due to continual presence of renters. A law enforcement situation at Calpine Lookout was shared. This is a concern at Grouse as well due to its remote location.

There is a locked gate, however, OHVs have driven around the locked gate. Boulders will need to be placed to prevent continued travel around the gate.

It was suggested that a sign be constructed to say the visitors can walk past the locked gate, but due to the rental nature, must be invited up into the lookout by the renters (or similar wording).

Seasons of Use

We expect that this lookout will have lots of visitors and be as popular as Calpine during the summer and fall. Snowmobile access may bring some use during the winter. It is doubtful that cross country skiers will use the facility much due to the length of ski trip from Hwy 20.

Volunteer Group

It was suggested that a “Friends of ….” group be established. An additional suggestion was made to keep this a local group and to streamline the process for donations, volunteers, etc. Suggestion that the National Lookout Association be contacted to see if they allow subgroups within their umbrella to form/solicit funds.

It was suggested that volunteers receive a night free for every 8 of hours donated which is similar to what is being done at Calpine Lookout. Volunteers will need to keep track of their hours, beginning with this meeting. A volunteer coordinator could be a big help in tracking and scheduling volunteer assistance.

Communications/PR

Various names were suggested for the group – Helpers of Grouse (HOG) or Lookout Assistants of Grouse (LAG). Other suggestions for the group’s name are needed.

It was suggested that an email group/web be developed. This may need to come from volunteers as there are cumbersome requirements for Forest Service webpages/networking sites.

Notes will be sent out quickly after each meeting. An email list has been set up by the Forest Service. Until someone from the group wants to take this on, the Forest Service will send out notes. To be placed on the mailing list, contact Ann Westling – awestling@fs.fed.us

Christopher Hersey and Craig Rohrsen volunteered to take still photos/video of the construction process. They would need to be alerted when work parties occur.

It was suggested that there be a contest for those renting the lookout with the best sunset photo.

It was suggested that there be a search for historic photos of the lookout as well as stories from people who served as the lookout.

Safety

Monique Bluvas, Fire Prevention Technician volunteered to be the safety officer to provide information/assistance on things like hanta virus prevention.

Updated 1/30/12