OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The National Park Service’s preferred alternative for an historic chalet in the Enchanted Valley of Olympic National Park is to dismantle it and remove it, according to an environmental assessment published last week.
The environmental assessment (EA) was released for public comment on Thursday. Comment will be taken through Aug. 2.
The assessment and a button for public comment are available on the project planning website at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-chaletea.
The park service will host a virtual public meeting from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. July 15. During the meeting, Olympic National Park staff will conduct a presentation on the assessment, followed by a question-and-answer session.
To access the meeting, go to tinyurl.com/yamsrrqk. The event/ID number is 199 948 4882. The password is Chal3t!.
A final decision is expected this winter, with action taken next summer.
Located 13 miles from the nearest road in a wilderness area designated in 1988, the chalet, which was built in the early 1930s before the park was established in 1938, was situated on a bank of the East Fork Quinault River.
The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
By 2014, the river had eroded the bank to within 18 inches of the structure.
The chalet, which originally was used as a backcountry lodge and more recently as a ranger station, was moved about 100 feet away from the river’s eroded edge.
Monroe House Moving of Carlsborg employees accomplished the job with equipment brought into the wilderness area by mules and helicopters. They used hydraulic jacks to push the two-story wooden structure on metal rails to its new location.
The move cost about $171,000, the park service said.
The move, Olympic National Park officials emphasized, was to protect the river, not the chalet.
The chalet now remains on the steel I-beams that were used to move it and is closed to public and administrative use.
The bank has once again eroded to within about 5 feet of the nearest corner of the chalet, and the nearest portion of the river channel is about 10 feet from the bank.
The EA analyzes three options: Alternative A — no action; Alternative B — dismantle and remove the chalet; and Alternative C — to relocate the building to another location on the terrace.
Those cost of each of the first two alternatives would be about $660,000, the park service said.
The third alternative, relocating the building, would cost an estimated $1.25 million.
The park service’s preferred alternative is to remove the chalet, using helicopters for large, heavy materials such as the I-beams, chimney and stove; burning some materials and leaving others to decompose.
“Most of the chalet’s important historic materials have already been removed from the building for safekeeping,” the EA said. “Those that remain may be salvaged for the park’s museum collections.”
Demolition would be done over a year’s time by a crew of eight or so, along with one to two packers and a string of eight stock, the document said.
Bunch Field in the Quinault area would be used as a helicopter staging area. Trials and camping areas within the flight zone would be closed temporarily during helicopter use. Work would not occur in the Quinault River.
Alternative C would have the chalet moved about 250 feet to a place close to the eastern valley-side terrace wall with a new foundation and chimney.
For more information or assistance accessing the meeting, email to [email protected] or call 360-565-3005.