Enchanted Valley Chalet: Au Revoir
After moving the old log hotel away from the East Fork Quinault River two years ago (at an estimated cost of 300–400 thousand dollars) and finding the river again poised to sweep it away, Olympic National Park is preparing to pull the plug. The Park has begun an environmental assessment process that will finally resolve the chalet issue.
The Park has released four draft alternatives for disposition of the chalet. Options include:
photo credit National Park Service
1. No action: Allow the structure to remain in its current location propped on I-beams where it was moved in 2014.
2. Set the structure in place on a wooden foundation that could be reabsorbed into the environment.
3. Dismantle and potentially remove the chalet from the Enchanted Valley.
4. Move the chalet to another location in the Enchanted Valley.
Historic preservation devotees are advocating for another move. This one would be more than four times longer than the first, and would supposedly save the building “indefinitely.” This is an unlikely prospect. OPA considers this option a costly, futile and destructive proposal. It would involve tree-cutting, grading and disruption of the Enchanted Valley camping area. And it is unacceptable in wilderness. The National Historic Preservation Act requires only that agencies fully document historic buildings before removing them.
OPA favors disassembling the chalet and allowing Enchanted Valley to return to a wilderness condition.
Public meetings were held around the Peninsula this summer, and the Park accepted scoping comments on the plan. Deadline for comments closed August 31. A draft EA with a preferred alternative is due next spring or summer.
Olympic National Park Moves Enchanted Valley Chalet
to (Not Much) Higher Ground
The East Fork Quinault was spared the fate of a teetering log structure collapsing into its waters—for now. In September 2014, contractor Jeff Monroe and crew moved the Enchanted Valley Chalet to another spot on the unconsolidated floodplain. The move took most of a week, involved nearly two dozen helicopter flights up and down a 30-mile stretch of the Quinault Valley, included transport of steel beams, hydraulic pumps, and a gas-powered generator—all in designated wilderness.
Estimated cost to the public: $164,000 not including NEPA planning or agency compliance, but the total cost of the move has not yet been calculated and probably never will be. This much is certain: every dollar for this costly and unnecessary project came directly out of an already-stressed park budget at a time when funding for visitor services, rangers, maintenance staff, interpretive programs, visitor centers, campgrounds, roads and trails has been slashed.
OPA will once more advocate for taking the building down. But with the lavish investment in saving the structure already made, that outcome is unlikely. Ultimately, it will be the wild Quinault River that makes the final call on the future of the Enchanted Valley Chalet.
OPA’s May 28, 2014, comment letter to the park service can be viewed here.
Tim McNulty’s op-ed on the chalet in the March 26, 2014, Peninsula Daily News can be seen here.