The complicated process of moving a historic two-story building about 50 feet begins today, complicated because the Enchanted Valley Chalet in the Olympic National Park is 13 miles from any developed roads.
Jeff Monroe of Monroe House Moving tells us crews and pack mules are hiking in Wednesday, lifting on Saturday and should start moving late Saturday or first thing Sunday. Helicopter flys on Thursday and Friday weather permitting.
The Parks Service has closed the Enchanted Valley to camping for the first two weeks of September to accommodate crews working in the park.
Monroe House Moving, Inc. of Sequim, Washington has been awarded the contract to move the building. The contractor plans to complete the relocation operation by mid-September, weather permitting.
To protect contractor and visitor safety, Enchanted Valley will be closed to all public camping for the duration of the project, September 1 through 14.
Hikers and stock users may continue to travel through the valley, but between September 1 and September 14, must be escorted by park staff. The camping closure and escort-only hiking restriction extends from the steel bridge at the downstream end of Enchanted Valley (mile 13 on the East Fork Quinault River Trail) to one mile upriver of the chalet.
The Graves Creek Stock Camp (located near the Graves Creek trailhead) will also be closed between September 1 and 14 to accommodate stock animals and handlers involved in transporting supplies and equipment during the project.
“Visitor, employee and contractor safety is our top priority,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Moving a two-story structure is inherently risky. We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation during the process of relocating the chalet.”
Using industry standard house-moving techniques, the contractor will move the Enchanted Valley Chalet a distance of 50 to 100 feet from its current location where it is undercut and in danger of collapsing into the East Fork Quinault River. The threats to natural and wilderness resources posed by the structure collapsing into the river warrant temporary relocation of the building. Additionally, preventing the chalet from imminent collapse will allow time to examine and plan for the long-term future of the structure.
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 National Park Service is charged with protecting all of Olympic National Park’s priceless resources, from historic structures to fish, to the unique and irreplaceable character of the Olympic Wilderness.
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 show that the river has 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.