It’s the responsibility of the National Park Service to preserve the Enchanted Valley Chalet in the Olympic National Park, not tear it down or let it deteriorate from disuse and disrepair, options the Park Service is considering, says state historic preservation director Allyson Brooks.
The Park Service is in the midst of public meetings to determine what to do about the chalet after rising water from the East Fork of the Quinault River came within 18 inches of the building in early 2014.
The backwoods structure is located 13 miles up the East Quinault River off the Graves Creek Trailhead. The 2 1/2-story building was built in the early 1930s by the Olympic Recreation Company and was a commercial property until the early 1940s. The National Park Service purchased it in 1951, and it has been maintained mostly by volunteers and used as a shelter by hikers.
The Park Service is seeking public input on three possible options:
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▪ Take no action.
▪ Build a new foundation under the chalet where it stands, replacing steel I-beams placed under the chalet when it was moved away from the river in 2014. The new foundation would be made of natural material, such as cedar blocks, that would be “reabsorbed into the environment.” In that case, the structure would be closed to the public.
▪ Dismantle and potentially remove the chalet.
Brooks strongly opposes the dismantling of the structure, which has strong ties to local residents in the area.
“We do not want to see the chalet demolished. That’s not an acceptable option,” Brooks said. “We want the National Park Service to fulfill its obligation mandated in section 110 of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act to preserve the structure.”
The preliminary proposals from the NPS could leave the chalet closed to the public, which might result in the building being removed from the National Register of Historic places.
Another option has been raised by Jeff Monroe, owner of Monroe House Moving Inc. in Carlsborg, who offered his services to move the chalet out of harm’s way.
“Jeff helped orchestrate the relocation of the chalet in 2014 and wants to move it to a safer place,” Brooks said. “We would be fine with that.”
At a June 27 meeting in Port Angeles, Rod Farlee, vice president of Friends of Olympic National Park, said time is of the essence as the chalet continues to be threatened by rising water.
Olympic National Park superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said she had mixed emotions regarding the status of the historic structure.
“Some folks think that we should tear down the chalet and have nothing up there because it’s a wilderness area and the Wilderness Act requires us to manage those lands differently,” Creachbaum said. “Other people want us to do everything we can to maintain the chalet in Enchanted Valley.”
For more information on the preliminary proposals or to comment online, go to tinyurl.com/chalet-proposal.
Information also is available by calling the park at 360-565-3004.
Three National Park Service meetings to determine the final disposition of the Enchanted Valley Chalet are scheduled for the third week of the month. The closest to South Sound will be at the Aberdeen Timberland Regional Library at 121 E. Market St., 5-7 p.m. July 18.