- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, Wash. (AP) - A four-foot section of the iconic Enchanted Valley Chalet hangs precariously over the bank of the East Fork of the Quinault River in the heart of Olympic National Park.

Park officials said there is little they can do to protect the 84-year-old structure against the forces of nature because of its remote location within a designated wilderness.

“Within what is technically and economically feasible, we continue to do our very best to protect the area’s natural and cultural resources and its wilderness character,” Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in a statement.

“Our options are limited, however, given the size and force of the river and the valley’s remote location within the Olympic wilderness.”

Located 13 miles beyond the Graves Creek trailhead on the southwest side of the park, the historic chalet sits in a sediment-filled floodplain where the Quinault’s main channel swings from one side of the valley to the other.

High flows this winter shifted the channel by at least 15 feet, undercutting a structure that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

A park crew recently assessed the chalet and removed equipment, supplies and hazardous materials.

Windows and window casings were also removed to prevent glass from impacting the river downstream, and to preserve elements of the historical building.

“It’s a very difficult situation because it’s a beautiful old building,” park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said in an interview.

“It has so much history. People love the Enchanted Valley Chalet. We’ve been looking at what we can do.”

To determine the best course of action, the park is working with the state historic preservation officials, the regional office of the National Park Service and various organizations and concerns citizens.

One concerned citizen, Rod Farlee of Sequim, said the chalet should have been moved a long time ago.

“The Enchanted Valley Chalet is the most significant historic structure within the Olympic Wilderness,” said Farlee, a member of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington.

“It predates the creation of Olympic National Park.

“It would be a real loss if we let it fall into the river.”

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