Olympic National Park, Carlsborg company to move threatened Enchanted Valley Chalet by start of September (four photos)
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Olympic National Park
Enchanted Valley Chalet, deep inside Olympic National Park, has been under cut by the East Fork of the Quinault River. This photo was taken last April.
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Olympic National Park
Enchanted Valley Chalet teeters on the eroding bank of the Quinault River in Olympic National Park in April.
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Olympic National Park
The underside of the Enchanted Valley Chalet has been exposed by the eroding bank of the Quinault River in Olympic National Park.
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Olympic National Park
In this undated file photo, the Enchanted Valley Chalet stands just feet from the Quinault River.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A Carlsborg-based house-moving company is expected to move a historic chalet in the heart of Olympic National Park to keep it from falling into the Quinault River.

Olympic National Park intends to issue a sole-source contract with Monroe House Movers to move the 84-year-old Enchanted Valley Chalet, now perched precariously above the East Fork of the river, some 50 and 100 feet back from the brink, said Barb Maynes, park spokeswoman.

The park issued the intent to contract Tuesday and must wait five days before finalizing it, Maynes said.

She said park staff estimate the move will cost between $40,000 and $150,000.

“I really can't say much of anything until I meet with them officially,” said Jeff Monroe, owner of Monroe House Movers, on Tuesday.

“It's positive that it's going to get moved. I don't care who moves it.”

The East Fork Quinault's channel has moved and has undercut the historic chalet by about 8 feet, Maynes said.

It is in danger of falling into the river and endangering wildlife, including the threatened bull trout.

“The plan is to move it before the fall rains return, so sometime before the beginning of September,” Maynes said of the move, which would be a temporary emergency measure.

The need to move quickly justifies the park forgoing its usual contracting process, which would start with a “solicitation of offers” from private contractors.

“Between now and the beginning of September is our window of opportunity to move the chalet,” Maynes said. “That is too tight a time frame to go through our usual process.”

The typical solicitation of offers and bid award process for such a project would take between 40 and 45 days, she said.

“Our staff has spent quite a bit of time researching Monroe House Movers and are confident they're able to do the job and that they are professional building movers,” Maynes said.

She said a second and more extensive planning process of the long-term placement of the chalet will begin later this year and offer opportunities for public comment.

The National Park Service Pacific West Regional Office determined Monday that the temporary move of the chalet would have no significant impact on the area surrounding the structure.

According to the environmental assessment, the work would take about a week and a require a team of four to six skilled laborers in addition to a professional house mover.

Monroe was not consulted during the environmental assessment process, Maynes said, per federal contracting rules.

Pack animals and a helicopter would be used to bring the necessary tools to the remote site.

The chalet would be moved as a complete structure and not taken apart, Maynes said.

Monroe said he had consulted with park staff in April about what it would take to move the chalet.

“I gave them a 'House-moving 101' seminar,” Monroe said.

Enchanted Valley Chalet, which is 13 miles from the nearest road, was built as a backcountry lodge in the 1930s, before the creation of the park.

It is located 13 miles uptrail from the Graves Creek trailhead in the Quinault Valley and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

Storms, fallen trees, rock slides and the constant process of erosion can cause the river to shift and carve a new channel.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 29. 2014 7:21PM
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