Enchanted Valley Chalet comments range from ‘save it’ to ‘burn it down’

  • Wed Nov 9th, 2016 10:00pm
  • News

Public comments regarding just what to do with the precariously perched and historically significant Enchanted Valley chalet run the gamut, from complete relocation to simply burning it to the ground. A compilation of these comments is now available from the National Park Service.

There were comments that both supported or expressed a lack of support for each of the four preliminary alternative concepts: No action and let natural processes prevail, set in place on a new foundation and allow natural processes to prevail, disassemble to sill logs, and preservation within the Enchanted Valley. “The majority of comments expressed either a general desire to ‘restore the area to natural conditions’ or ‘save the chalet’ without any further detail, ideas, suggestions that would help build out the current, or develop new, alternative concepts,” read the report.

A slight majority of commenters favored a “natural” solution; basically, let nature take its course and whatever happens to the chalet happens. Next were comments saying the building should be disassembled and its materials used for other purposes, like the construction of park bridges or artistic and interpretive uses. Many called for its demolition – some with the stipulation that only hand tools, livestock and backpacks, no motorized equipment, be used – or the burning of the chalet in its entirety.

The remote building, 13 miles from the nearest road, was built by Quinault Valley residents in the early 1930s. It has served as a backcountry lodge and more recently a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter. The chalet was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. It also lies in the active floodplain of the East Fork Quinault River, where the oft-migrating channel moved to within 18 inches of the chalet in 2014. The building was moved 100 feet from its previous location but a permanent solution is still needed for the chalet’s future, if indeed it has one.

Public comment on the chalet was accepted in June and July, with contributions from a handful of groups but mostly individuals from nearly every corner the U.S. and beyond, more than 1,400 all told. NPS will now refine alternatives, identify environmental impacts of those alternatives, and prepare a draft plan and environmental document regarding the chalet between now and the Fall of 2017. Public comments will be taken and public forums held toward the end of that period, and a final plan is slated to be released to the public in the Spring of 2018.

To view the full report, visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/EVCscopingreport.