Work to temporarily relocate the Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park to protect the East Fork Quinault River was completed Friday, September 12.
“I am very proud of our park staff, and appreciative of the contractor and his work,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “We are very pleased to know that the chalet is now further from the river.”
Work to temporarily relocate the chalet began September 1. Contractor Monroe House Moving of Sequim, Washington, used hydraulic jacks to push the structure 100 feet along steel beams and away from the eroding river bank.
Once the move was complete, the building was lowered onto cribbing towers and secured. The building will remain closed to the public while in its current temporary location.
A planning and environmental analysis process will begin within the next year to determine the final disposition of the building.
The chalet relocation project was examined in the “Emergency Action to Temporarily Relocate the Enchanted Valley Chalet for the Protection of the East Fork Quinault River Environmental Assessment” (EA) and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued on July 25.
The Enchanted Valley Chalet is located 13 miles from the nearest road, deep within the Olympic Wilderness. The chalet was constructed by Quinault Valley residents in the early 1930s, prior to establishment of Olympic National Park. The chalet served for several decades as a backcountry lodge and more recently, as a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter. The chalet was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Photos shared by park visitors in early January showed that the main channel of the East Fork Quinault River had migrated to within 18 inches of the 1930s-era chalet. Last winter’s storms and high flows resulted in the Quinault’s main channel continuing to shift by at least 15 feet. Recent photographs showed that the river had undercut the building by approximately eight feet.
Migration of the East Fork Quinault’s channel is common in the loose, unconsolidated soils of Enchanted Valley. Storms, fallen trees, rockslides and simply the constant process of erosion can all cause the river to shift and carve a new channel.
The EA and the FONSI, along with other supporting documents, are available for review at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/EVCEA.