Public urged to comment on plans for Enchanted Valley Chalet

Luciano Marano
lmarano@ptleader.com
Posted 7/8/20

Out with the old, and for real this time. 

But rather than Mother Nature, the one doing the razing now is the federal government.

The National Park Service has released an environmental …

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Public urged to comment on plans for Enchanted Valley Chalet

Posted

Out with the old, and for real this time. 

But rather than Mother Nature, the one doing the razing now is the federal government.

The National Park Service has released an environmental assessment regarding the potential fate of the historic Enchanted Valley Chalet for a 30-day public review and comment period, as the historic structure is once again in imminent danger of destruction, one way or another. 

A virtual public meeting will be held, during which Olympic National Park staff will conduct a presentation of the assessment and host a Q&A session, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, though general comments and feedback will be accepted through Aug. 2.

Instructions regarding how to join and access the meeting can be found at the “News Releases” section of www.nps.gov (search “Enchanted Valley Chalet”). 

The purpose of the assessment process, according to officials, is to determine the final disposition of the chalet, a 48-ton lodge in Olympic National Park reportedly built in 1931. The structure rests on the active floodplain of the Quinault River, which is steadily drawing nearer. 

The lovely lodge has seen this particular problem before.

In early 2014, the riverbank came within 18 inches of the lodge. At the time, park officials prepared a plan for its temporary relocation, and later that year it was moved about 100 feet away from the riverbank until a long-term decision could be reached through the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act processes. 

That time, apparently, is now. 

The chalet reportedly remains on the steel beams that were used to move it and is closed to the public. However, 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.

According to the National Park Service, the best plan would be to dismantle the chalet. 

“Dismantling the chalet allows a balanced approach toward management and stewardship of cultural, natural, and wilderness resources,” according to officials. “If left in place, or even moved as far back as possible, the remaining river terrace in the vicinity will likely be gone in its entirety in 10 [to] 20 years. In addition, floods are increasing in both size and frequency and there are avalanche risks close to the valley wall.” 

Should the chalet fall into the Quinault River, officials said, there could be “a substantial environmental and cultural impact.” 

Modifying the riverbank, they added, would be contrary to the provisions of the Wilderness Act, as the majority of the river within the park is located in designated wilderness areas. 

The new assessment includes responses to comments received during a prior public scoping process in 2016 and evaluates the impacts of the proposed project on “cultural and natural resources, wilderness character, and visitor use and experience,” according to officials. 

It includes three possible options, including a no-action alternative. Additionally, the chalet could be dismantled or relocated to another nearby location. 

The assessment and related documents are available for review at the aforementioned online location, and comments may be submitted there through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, or mailed or delivered by hand to: Olympic National Park, Attn: Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum, Enchanted Valley Chalet EA, 600 East Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

No comments will be accepted via phone or email, nor any submitted by someone on behalf of others. 

Despite its acknowledged local significance, the Enchanted Valley Chalet technically does not merit the same protections as other National Park Service resources, like the Liberty Bell or Lincoln Home. 

“Historic structures that are central to the legislated purposes of parks, especially those that are to be interpreted, may be subjects of additional, specialized efforts appropriate to their functions and significance,” officials said. 

Not so, the chalet.

After the public comments are analyzed, the NPS Regional Director will make a decision, based on a recommendation from the Superintendent of Olympic National Park, regarding the final disposition of the structure. 

Comments

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Jim Mc Carron

Pity Dave Timmons is no longer city manager. I have no doubt but that he would find a way using scarce taxpayer dollars, to fly or sail the chalet to Port Townsend in yet another City of Dreams solution to affordable housing.

Wednesday, July 8
Marge Samuelson

September 3, 2014 PTL had an article by Patrick J. Sullivan about moving the Chalet away from the Quinault River, because of erosion. Jeff Monroe, Monroe House Moving, Sequim moved it back from the river. The Chalet was built in 1930. A destination Lodge. Would be a pity if it after all the effort of moving it, it would be a shame to not try to rehabilitate it and make it a viable part of the Park. I know, parks are always short of money, but perhaps a Friends of the Enchanted Valley Chalet could be formed or a hiking club. Was a great beauty in it's time.

Wednesday, July 8