Mules will provide power to move threatened chalet

A Sequim company will employ mules to move the Enchanted Valley Chalet away from the East Fork Quinault River in a wilderness area of Olympic National Park.

Park officials have awarded a $124,000 contract to Monroe House Moving, Inc., to relocate the historic structure. The work is tentatively set to for the first two weeks of September, as long as weather, visibility and trail conditions allow.

Once the materials and personnel are on the site, moving the building will take about one week.

The chalet is 13 miles up the river valley, within the park’s wilderness area, where motorized vehicles are ordinarily banned. That’s why mules will be used to carry the majority of the material and supplies.

The National Park Service will use helicopters to haul equipment and materials too large or heavy for the mules. That includes beams that are too long and hydraulic jacks that are too heavy, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Tuesday.

The plan calls for moving the chalet 50-to-100 feet from the river. The building already is at risk of collapse because erosion has undercut the bank beneath the building by about 8 feet.

Park visitors informed officials about the situation in January. The park’s initial plan was to allow nature, and the river, to take its course.

Managers altered their thinking earlier this summer when they realized allowing the structure to fall in the river would threaten natural and wilderness resources, including bull trout living in the river.

Moving the structure a short distance also would give the park more time to develop a long-term solution.

Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said the park is working to provide day-use and hiker access, but the valley will be closed for overnight camping for up to two weeks while the work is taking place. Also, the Graves Creek Stock Camp will be closed during the project.

The chalet was built by Quinault Valley residents in the early 1930s. It served for several decades as a backcountry lodge and most recently was a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter. The chalet was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.