The premium placed on saving the Enchanted Valley Chalet in the backcountry of Olympic National Park has gained more stature with the decision by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to place the building on its most endangered list for 2014.
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 chalet. This winter's storms and high flows have resulted in the Quinault's main channel continuing to shift by at least 15 feet in the past four months. Recent photographs show that the river has undercut the two-and-a-half-story building by approximately four feet.
Park officials are looking into the possibility of moving the historic structure away from the stream. The park staff is expected to soon release for public review "an expedited and concise environmental assessment" that will examine short-term approaches to protecting both the chalet and the Quinault River. This EA will analyze potential impacts of moving the Enchanted Valley Chalet a short distance away from the East Fork Quinault River. It's not seen as a long-term solution, but rather one that will buy some time while a more permanent solution is developed.
The chalet's location inside designated Wilderness makes moving it especially challenging, as motorized tools typically are not allowed, nor is the use of a helicopter.
The following video touches on various projects that made the Washington Trust's most endangered list. The segment on the Enchanted Valley Chalet starts at 10:22.