Temporary Relocation of the Enchanted Valley Chalet for the Protection of the East Fork Quinault River
The expedited and concise environmental assessment (EA) entitled "Emergency Action to Temporarily Relocate the Enchanted Valley Chalet for the Protection of the East Fork Quinault River" has been completed and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed by National Park Service (NPS) Pacific West Regional Director Christine Lehnertz was released today.
The EA analyzes potential impacts of moving the Enchanted Valley Chalet a short distance away from its current location where it is being undercut by the East Fork Quinault River. With the EA completed and FONSI signed, NPS staff can move forward with implementing the proposed action before autumn rains begin.
"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," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "A second and more extensive planning and public review process will begin later this year, and will examine options for long-term disposition of the historic chalet."
Details about how and when the chalet will be moved will be released as soon as they are available.
The National Park Service is charged with protecting all of Olympic National Park's priceless resources, from historic structures like the chalet to bull trout, a federally listed threatened species that lives in the East Fork Quinault River, 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 River's channel is common in the loose, unconsolidated soils of Enchanted Valley. Storms, fallen trees, rock slides and simply the constant process of erosion can all cause the river to shift and carve a new channel.
Olympic National Park Surperintendent