Support a plan to remove a building from Olympic National Park Wilderness!
The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed to remove the Enchanted Valley Chalet from the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness in Olympic National Park in the state of Washington. While this is a good move on the part of the NPS, your help is needed to bolster the Park Service’s resolve and to encourage it to remove the chalet in ways that protect the Wilderness and meet the ideals of the Wilderness Act.
The two-and-a-half story chalet was privately built in 1930-31 on the active floodplain of the East Fork Quinault River, about 13 miles from the trailhead. It was operated as a commercial business until 1943; the NPS bought it in 1953. It was used in more recent years as ranger station, but has not seen any use since 2013. The structure has deteriorated over the years, and at times the changing river channel has threatened to undermine it. In September 2014, at a cost of over 100,000 dollars, the NPS dragged the building 100 feet away from the river, but now the ever-shifting river again threatens the structure, with the riverbank coming within about five feet of the building.
The 1964 Wilderness Act prohibits buildings and structures like the chalet. The chalet provides no benefit for wilderness protection and, in fact, degrades the Wilderness by its continuing presence. Buildings like this are simply not appropriate in Wilderness.
After previous decisions to move and retain the building, the NPS has finally proposed the right decision to remove it (thanks to many of you who wrote to the NPS on this topic in 2016!). But, typical of the NPS, it proposes to use a massive number of helicopters to accomplish the task. The NPS plan calls for 99 helicopter flights to haul in hydraulic jacks and power tools, generators, scaffolding, tools, chainsaws, ladders and more to dismantle the structure, then even more helicopter flights to haul out the tools, I-beams, and non-burnable materials like the chimney and stove.
Such a massive helicopter invasion is unnecessary, and would harm the wildness of this Wilderness. No doubt helicopters weren’t used to bring in the materials to build the chalet, and no doubt they aren’t needed to remove those same things. The Park Service should burn what is burnable and pack out the rest using horse, mule, or human power.
Your letters are needed by August 2 to support the NPS’s decision to remove the chalet from the Wilderness, but to do so in ways that don’t further harm the wilderness values of Olympic National Park. Advocates for the chalet will certainly push the NPS to keep the building without concern for its incompatibility with Wilderness. Advocates for Wilderness must also speak up!
Please use your own words, but consider including the following points in your comment letter:
I support the NPS decision to remove the Enchanted Valley Chalet from the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness. The building is not needed for wilderness protection, and degrades the Wilderness by its continuing presence.
I oppose any use of helicopters or power tools to do the job. The chalet wasn’t built using helicopters, they aren’t necessary to remove it. Burn what’s burnable and pack out the rest with horses, mules, or human power. This is a chance for the Park Service to show its commitment to Wilderness!
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