Dyer Mountain Lookout
US 1376, CA 199
Dyer Mountain Lookout - 2009

Dyer Mountain Lookout - 2009 - courtesy of saragrant.blogspot.com

Lookout Details

Registry Numbers US 1376, CA 199 (view other lookouts in United States, California)
Date Registered October 31, 2019
Nominated by Brad Eells
Location Lassen National Forest
Lassen County, California
Coordinates N 40° 14.344' W 121° 01.964' (view using Google Maps)
N 40° 14' 21" W 121° 01' 58"
N 40.239063° W 121.032736°
Elevation 7,474 ft (2,278 m)
Built 1934
Administered by US Forest Service - Lassen National Forest
Cooperators California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection - Lassen-Modoc Unit (Cal Fire LMU)


Dyer Mountain Lookout is a California Region 5 Plan BC-301 Cabin on a 15 foot enclosed timber tower. This 1934 built structure is owned by Lassen National Forest (LNF) but used by CDF under a Special Use Permit.

First 10-Year Update to CAL FIRE’s Management Plan for Historic Buildings and Archaeological Sites - 2011-2012: Although the lookout is owned and used by Lassen National Forest (LNF), CAL FIRE uses the lookout and mountain top as a communication site under the terms of a Special Use Permit

The lower room of the lookout is currently used by CAL FIRE to house radio equipment and associated hardware. The tower has not been used as a lookout since 2007. While in use for lookout purposes, the lookout directly benefited the Almanor and Eagle Lake Ranger Districts along with the Plumas National Forests Mount Hough District when staffed. CAL FIRE does not currently staff the Dyer Lookout and has ceased any further use as a lookout due to the unsafe condition of the building and the fact that state
funding to support lookouts was permanently cut approximately 15 years ago.

The high elevation of the site and difficulty of access during winter months has significantly impacted the condition of the tower. Guy wires to the tower are sagging on one side and taut on the other, possibly indicating structural failure. The staircase is comprised of a mixture of cracked and splintered boards. The hand rail is loose and falling apart and the cat walk is separating from the main structure. Up until 2007 CAL FIRE, which was still using the structure as a lookout at that time, continued to conduct maintenance of the facility, including painting, light carpentry and cleaning. However, at this time the LNF is not doing regular maintenance of the building, which is deemed unsafe for use and would require extensive repair and upgrades, including changes to the facility access to meet standard safety compliance requirements. Because it has been determined eligible for listing on the NRHP, repairs to the building would have to be done in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation (36 CFR Part 61).

Lassen National Forest is currently considering transferring the ownership of the tower site to a private entity who has expressed interest in acquiring the site but who wants the tower removed from the property as a condition of transfer. The eventual goal of that proposal is to convert the location now occupied by the tower to a repeater site.

The current conditions at Dyer Mountain Lookout present two separate problems for CAL FIRE to address. Dyer Mountain Lookout is one of the 29 significant historic buildings that CAL FIRE has agreed to preserve and manage over the long term. Prior to 2001, the USFS indicated that it intended to restore and maintain the lookout to preserve its historical values and maintain it as an important functioning public facility. Since CAL FIRE was using the tower to house radio equipment, and on rare occasion
provided a firefighter to serve as a lookout, at that time the Department was able to offer limited assistance to the USFS to maintain the structure.

Things have changed since then and the USFS has discontinued its previous practice of regular maintenance and repair of the building. Now the lookout has deteriorated to such an unsafe condition that the USFS may pursue demolition rather than restoration.
Because CAL FIRE has no control over what happens to the lookout, it has proven to be a poor choice for selection to the list of historic buildings to be preserved. CAL FIRE has decided to de-list Dyer Mountain Lookout immediately upon approval of this Plan update. De-listing the lookout does not necessarily mean that the lookout is doomed to be demolished (although it is recognized that absent maintenance, this is the likely outcome). Instead this action is being taken in recognition of the fact that the USFS, not CAL FIRE, controls the management of the lookout, and consequently, CAL FIRE’s ability to utilize the site and its
facilities is limited and is subject to the discretion of the USFS through their approval of the terms of the
Special Use Permit.

Although funding for staffing the lookout was discontinued years ago, this facility has continued to serve an important function since it houses State and Federal radio equipment. However, on-going deterioration of the lookout building is affecting its use as a communications site. For example, a radio mast, lashed to the tower catwalk, is separating from the structure and, consequently, no longer provides adequate support for the mast. As well, rain water leaking into the tower threatens to ruin the radio equipment stored inside.

The Dyer Mountain Lookout is presently in a terribly unsafe condition. Without substantial public funding to make repairs necessary to restore it to working order, the USFS may well find it has no feasible options to demolition of the lookout one day in the not too distant future.

Tasks for CAL FIRE from 2011-2021: CAL FIRE shall continue negotiating with the USFS in a search for feasible ways to improve the condition of the lookout. While doing so, CAL FIRE shall also pursue various options to upgrade the communications site, including the option of relocating it to another vault and tower. Consequently, due to the situation described above, CAL FIRE has now removed the Dyer Mountain Lookout from its list of historic buildings to be preserved and maintained and, in its place, has added the Fredonyer Peak Lookout (which the State owns and controls).


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