In a step toward trying to save the Enchanted Valley Chalet in its entirety, the National Park Service annouced Friday it will perform an environmental assessment to analyze the potential impacts of moving the historic building a short distance.
The chalet is currently at risk of sliding into the East Fork Quinault River, which has eaten away the riverbank over the past several years. Moving the chalet a short distance wouldn’t be a permanent fix, but would buy the Park Service more time to come up with a long-term solution.
After the initial environmental analysis is complete and the building is safe, the Park Service will perform a lengthier analysis featuring several alternatives and opportunities for public comment.
“Taking a two-step approach to the evolving situation in Enchanted Valley allows us to address immediate resource protection needs while allowing more time to find a feasible solution that protects park resources into the future,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a press release.
Previously, park officials had hoped to save small samples of the chalet for museum exhibits. But this decision was met with outcry from local recreation groups and preservation activists.
“We don’t want a pattern established of writing off historic properties in wilderness areas,” said State Historic Architect Nicholas Vann.
State Historic Preservation Officer Allyson Brooks also voiced concerns regarding the earlier plan.
Moving the chalet won’t be easy and could be very costly.
Creachbaum previously estimated moving the structure could cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.
The two-story structure, which was built in the 1930s, is located at the end of a 13-mile hike from the Graves Creek Trailhead near Lake Quinault.
Hikers often use it for overnight shelter and the local Olympians hiking club helped with extensive repairs in the early 1980s. Several civic groups have also donated time and money to preserve the chalet.