The Enchanted Valley Chalet will be moved, Olympic National Park managers just aren’t sure how and when.
The park announced Monday that an expedited environmental assessment has been completed and the National Park Service’s Pacific West regional director Christine Lehnertz has signed a finding of no significant impact.
With those two steps complete, park managers want to move the structure before the fall rains begin. Details about how and when the building will be moved will be released when they are available, according to a park news release.
Park officials did announce Tuesday they were moving ahead with the intent to award a sole-source contract to Monroe House Movers. The project is expected to cost $40,000-$100,000, according to Park Service documents.
“With August just around the corner, there is simply not enough time to conduct our normal solicitation and contracting process,” superintendent Sarah Creachbuam said in a news release.
The historic structure is being threatened by the meandering channel of the East Fork Quinault River. Storms and subsequent high river flows last winter helped the main channel to shift by at least 15 feet. Photos taken by park visitors in January showed the river bank was within 18 inches of the chalet. Since then, the rivers has undercut the building by as much as 8 feet.
The assessment analyzed the potential impact of moving the three-story chalet a short distance from its location, as well as what might happen if no action were taken, the park’s initial stance. The park wants to move the building 50-100 feet from its location.
“To avoid immediate environmental harm to the East Fork Quinault River and risks to threatened bull trout and other aquatic resources, it is imperative that the chalet be moved away from the river bank before the fall rains begin,” Creachbaum said in a prepared statement.
Creachbaum said a second and more in-depth assessment and public review would begin later this year. That assessment will look at alternatives for the long-term disposition of the chalet.
Not only is the park charged with protecting species like the bull trout, a federally listed threatened fish that lives in the East Fork, but also to protect resources such as the historic chalet and the character of the Olympic wilderness, the superintendent said.
The chalet is located 13 miles up the river valley. It was built by valley residents in the early 1930s, prior to the park’s creation. For several decades it served as a backcountry lodge, then most recently it was a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter. The chalet was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.