Forest Plans to Rebuild Needles Lookout Tower

Release Date: Feb 20, 2014   Sequoia National Forest

Contact(s): Denise Alonzo, Rick Stevens


Springville, Calif., February 20, 2013—For Immediate Release     The Needles Fire Lookout Tower, located on the Western Divide Ranger District within the Giant Sequoia National Monument on the Sequoia National Forest was destroyed in a structure fire in July 2011.  The purpose of this project is to rebuild the Needles Lookout Tower with a structure that maintains the same “look and feel” as the original structure while complying with current building codes and safety requirements. 

There is a need to ensure all electronic equipment is replaced with new equipment meeting current technology standards, providing the necessary communication for agency personnel (e.g., firefighters and wilderness rangers) and supporting backcountry users.  There is also a need to restore the lookout as the popular recreation destination it used to be. 

The Needles are a series of massive granite rock formations rising up from the North Fork of the Kern River near its junction with the Little Kern River. The Needles and other geological features are identified as objects of interest in the Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan.

The lookout tower was constructed in 1937-38 by the Civilian Conservation Corps atop the rock formation at 8,245 feet.  A Forest Service employee, stationed in the tower, was responsible for detecting fires and relaying radio messages to a dispatcher, who in turn sent firefighters and support equipment to extinguish the reported fire.  The tower was utilized as this employee’s office as well as their home for the summer months while the lookout was on duty. 

A draft Decision Memo detailing the proposal is available for review at the Western Divide Ranger District Office, 32588 Highway 190, Springville, California. For additional information, or to obtain a copy of the draft Decision Memo, contact: Linn Gassaway, Zone Archaeologist, at (559) 338-2251, extension 396. The draft Decision Memo is also available at

Comments will be accepted for 30 calendar days following publication of the legal notice in the Porterville Recorder.  Legal notice will also be published in the Bakersfield Californian.  Comments should be provided by mail, fax, e-mail, or in-person to the responsible official:Rick Stevens,District Ranger of the Western Divide Ranger District. Comments can be mailed to: 32588 Highway 190, Springville, CA 93265; e-mailed to: comments-pacificsouthwest-sequoia@fs.fed.uswith Subject: Needles; or faxed to (559) 539-2067.  Acceptable formats for electronic submissions include e-mail message, plain text (.txt) or rich text format (.rtf); Word document (.doc or .docx); or portable document file (.pdf). Hand-delivered comments should be submitted during the business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.